Maine should seek waiver for testing standards

We move to abolish the testing provisions of No Child Left Behind.

So moved.

Seeing no objections, the motion passes. Bang the gavel and move on.

If only it were that easy.

Everyone — teachers, administrators, governors, plus Republican and Democratic lawmakers  — realizes the accountability provisions of the decade-old law are not working.

But changing the law takes congressional action, and that branch of government seems capable of little more than reckless posturing at the moment.

President Barack Obama asked Congress to change the law 17 months ago. No action yet.

Tuesday, Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, about as conservative an advocate of educational reform as you'll find, said the law must change.

Bowen says he may seek a waiver from NCLB's testing provisions, which is the only remedy now available to states.

The original goals of the Bush-era program were laudable, and the original law passed with bipartisan support. That's right, a Republican president came up with an idea and Democrats and Republicans in Congress supported it.

Boy, those were the days.

President George W. Bush had denounced what he called the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

The meaning was clear, that we should have the same expectations of children in poor neighborhoods as we have in wealthy school districts.

Unfortunately, another reality soon became clear: The money to accomplish these goals had also been left behind.

The expectations of NCLB's strict testing regimen have, however, marched steadily forward. The original law dramatically declared that 100 percent of students would be reading and doing math at their appropriate age level by 2014.

Each year, the threshold for success gets higher. Schools not reaching the law's standards two years in a row are labeled "failing schools."

Last year, 113 of 635 public schools in Maine failed. That number is expected to double each year until practically every school in the state fails.

That is not a formula for success.

Bowen and others in Maine have called for a new standard that emphasizes individual achievement over mass test taking.

A teacher and a school should be responsible for moving each student's achievement a certain distance over the course of a school year.

That means we need to have different annual goals for a student who does not speak English and who joins a class in the middle of a year than we do for other children in the class.

The expectations for all students should be high, but the expectations must be different.

Maine should seek a waiver from the testing provisions of NCLB, and it should begin work to develop its own testing system or adopt a system used by another state.

We can do better.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

Maine should seek waiver for testing standards

. . ...uh huh , Paul ?  ƒonix is phun though • Eubonix , also . How about ig-pay at-Lin ey n e one ¿ ( pig Latin ) It the lack of ma†h and science skills that will comne back to haunt us in the future . After all , " A Rat In Tom's House May Eat Tom's Ice Cream . " <---- It's just a mnemonic , everyone , h t h , Dr. Dosh and ohana http://hawaiiannames.hisurf.com/

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

No Child Left Behind or no No

No Child Left Behind or no No Child Left Behind, it doesn't matter. Until they can graduate kids that are able to read their diplomas and spell most of the words in it, the entire educational system is failing.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Maine should seek waiver for testing standards

.All, 11.08.25 11:11 am - ish •
.†he Great State of Maine is not the - only - State asking for this e x e m p t i o n . States rights , remember ? The President proposes , Congress disposes . /s, Dr. Dosh and kids ( in public school :)

Jim Cyr's picture

We can do better

without Fed intervention!

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Commissioner Bowen has asked

Commissioner Bowen has asked for waivers.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Maine should seek waiver for testing standards

HHHHmmm. ." Last year, 113 of 635 public schools in Maine failed. " You must be somewhat of a scholar , though , Mr. Rhodes , judging by your editorials
We have the same problem here in Hawai'i . M O S T of our schools fail and are thrown into remedial or corrective status . We have a high percentage of non-native speakers ; Pacific Islanders , Pilipinos , and other Far East foreign national immigrant kids whose folks have no interest in speaking English at home . So be it
To recap : N C L B was a deal struck between then Sen. Ed Kennedy and George Bush to raise educational stadards in the U S . They even put up little red school houses out in front of the U S national D O E in D C in 2 0 0 1 . Those were modeled on the original and first ' little red school house ' in Byfield , MA , i . e., http://www.thegovernorsacademy.org/
i think confusion arises from how schools are scored . It is not > 90% = A , > 80% = B and so forth . I believe it is 50 % pass , 50 % fail , including charter and church schools ( i could be wrong on this point ) In a similar vein , the avg I Q in the U S is 1 0 0 , by definition . 1 / 2 of the people are smarter, 1 \ 2 dumber
You are correct is stating that teachers and administrators can not and should not " teach to test " meaning , just teaching kids what they need to know in order to get a good score , be it on S A T's , N C L B , M L A T 's , or whatever . We all know that wisdom really has nothing to do with smarts , does it Forrest Gump ? There are teachers and then there are educators . . ....
This is not an easy issue for our nation
One fact we know true is that , ( unlike ME & HI ) , TX ranks 49th in this blessed union and our previous first lady was a former school teacher from there
The current one ( Michelle ) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University . Things are looking up h t h , Dr. Dosh and Ohana http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml

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