It’s Time to Fix No Child Left Behind

President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talk with students and teachers at the Kenmore Middle School

President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talk with students and teachers at the Kenmore Middle School auditorium in Arlington, Va. March 14, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

“I want every child in this country to head back to school in the fall knowing that their education is America’s priority. Let’s seize this education moment.  Let’s fix No Child Left Behind,” said President Obama earlier today at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia.  President Obama was joined by Secretary Duncan, teachers, representatives from major education associations, and Kenmore students.

In introducing President Obama, Secretary Duncan explained that, “While No Child Left Behind helped expand the standards and accountability movement, there is much that needs to be fixed.”

Many teachers complain bitterly about NCLB’s emphasis on testing. Principals hate being labeled as failures. Superintendents say it wasn’t adequately funded. And many parents just view it as a toxic brand that isn’t helping children learn.  We need to fix NCLB now. And it can’t wait.

During the speech, President Obama spoke directly to America’s teachers:

Now, I want to speak to teachers in particular here.  I’m not talking about more tests.  I’m not talking about teaching to the test.  We don’t need to know whether a student can fill out a bubble.  We do need to know whether they’re making progress.  We do need to know whether they’re not only mastering reading, math, and science, but also developing the kinds of skills, like critical thinking and creativity and collaboration that I just saw on display with the students that I met here.  Those are skills they’re going to need for the rest of their lives, not just to be good workers, but to be good citizens.

Now, that doesn’t mean testing is going to go away; there will be testing.  But the point is, is that we need to refine how we’re assessing progress so that we can have accountability without rigidity — accountability that still encourages creativity inside the classroom, and empowers teachers and students and administrators.

Read the White House blog post, and you can also read President Obama’s speech and Secretary Duncan’s speech.  The White House also released a fact sheet that lays out the President’s priorities for fixing NCLB.

53 Comments

  1. At the possible cost of sounding callous, I think that the very concept behind NCLB is flawed. I do believe that every student should have the opportunity to a good education, but I don’t believe that the standards of the curriculum should be lowered so that every student succeeds, that’s simple grade inflation and just contributes to the problem of poor education in America.

    • After seeing our President Video on the No Child Left Behind Program and abuses by some school districts, I would like to report to him still another abuse of the Program right here in Washington State.
      I would like your help in helping me report to the Washington State Representative who handles the SES No Child Left Behind program and our President about the exclusionary restrictive practices being use by some of our school Districts in an effort to keep small independent SES Providers and out of state providers from tutoring children in their district under this program.
      First, let me state, OSPI requires all providers to provide $1,000,000 worth the insurance; up until last year this is one policy covered all school districts. And up until last year the OSPI application reflected that fact. Now it states the the districts have the right to impose their own insurance levels in addition to that required by OSPI.
      With the 2010-2011 school year, some districts found a loop hole in the contract that allowed the districts to set their own insurance levels and they did at the highest maximum level they could by law. Thus, effectively automatically eliminating so many of the smaller providers from the SES pool of eligible provider in their districts, which effectively and systematically assures that only the District SES tutoring programs, District in-house tutoring programs and larger companies like Sylvan and Boys and Girls Clubs of America can compete. In effect what they have done is limit the parents rights to choice the provider of their choice by silently replacing their program if the provider does meet their guide lines. Here is an example:
      Insurance
      a. Certificates. The Provider shall not commence performance of services under this Contractual Service Agreement until all required insurance has been obtained and a certificate has been submitted to the District. A certificate of insurance reflecting the insurance required below, identifying the District as additional insured and indicating that the insurance is primary and non-contributing, shall be provided prior to execution of this Agreement. All certificates must provide 45 day’s prior notice to the District of cancellation, nonrenewal, or material alteration of the insurance. All insurance is to be provided by insurance companies with an A.M. Best’s rating of not less than A VIII. The insurance requirement shall not reduce the obligations of the indemnification agreement set out in paragraph 6, above. Lapse of coverage or failure to furnish satisfactory evidence of insurance is cause for termination of this Contractual Service Agreement.
      b. Coverage. The Provider, at its own cost, shall maintain public liability insurance for:
      • Bodily Injury (including sickness or death) and Property Damage in the minimum amount of $1,000,000 combined single limit per occurrence and in the minimum of $2,000,000 in the aggregate.
      • Auto Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability in a minimum amount of $ 1,000,000 per accident for owned, non-owned, and hired automobiles.
      • In addition, the Provider shall maintain Professional Liability insurance in a minimum amount of $1,000,000 per claim that includes coverage for any act or allegation of sexual molestation.
      Please note that up until the School Districts became providers the $1,000,000 required by OSPI was good enough.
      Also the Districts have Auto Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability in a minimum amount of $ 1,000,000 per accident for owned, non-owned, and hired automobiles. Also, when asked if a provider goes to the students, does not transport a child, and catches a bus, gets off walks to the district office or catch a cab, did they still have to have auto insurance. The answer was. Yes. COST to the provider an average of $500 a month or $6000 a year. Not only does this restrict the small contractors it prohibits out of state providers who may have an online program from being considered eligible until they have purchased WA state auto insurance.
      This is depriving the parents from their given right to have access all providers. By excluding provider successfully through the law by restrict this access that is supposed to be given to through the law by limit the parents right First Choice.
      If there is anything you can do about helping get this information to the right people at the State and National it would be appreciated.

  2. Children’s education should be prioritized. There are parents who are not interested in sending their children to school because they are just thinking that what maters most is getting a job without being in school for a long time. But that’s not the thing nothing compares to education.

  3. I feel the need to add my two cents, for whatever it’s worth. I was one of those teachers who worked in the “private sector” first, and went back to school to become an educator. I have two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s and numerous graduate level classes, in education and science, for a total of nine years of higher level education. I have taught at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. I have over 20 years of teaching experience. This is not to impress anyone. Most teachers I know have more years of education than the average private sector worker, and most teachers are not paid what they would be worth with the same education, and experience as in the private sector, despite what many politicians want the country to believe. This year I have, like many teachers, received a cut in pay and benefits, and they have increased the number of days I work and the number of hours per day I work. Yet, still I’m treated as though I am an incompetent, money grubbing, parasite. This takes a toll on moral. I sometimes wonder why I come to work. I spend hours preparing lessons and labs and grading papers. I run a tutorial after school once a week for students, and a physics club, all on my own time without compensation. My weekends, holidays, and scheduled layoffs (summer), are often spent preparing for the weeks or months ahead and this job has virtually no perks. I have rarely had administrators that support me in my efforts, or treat me as a valuable asset, or show any appreciation for the amount of work I put in. After 20 years and a masters + 30, I make less than $70,000 (and because of my rural setting I make more than most teachers in my area) and my benefits have been cut, so that I cannot afford to include any family members on my health or dental insurance. I have not found any other private insurance I can afford.
    I state all this so that you understand that I am the rule, not the exception. Most of the teachers I have had the privilege of working with fit this category, and the younger teachers eventually will, or they will burn out and leave long before they reach this point. The vast majority of teachers care about their students, work very hard, and often lose sleep trying to find ways to reach their kids. The stories will vary a bit, but the main point is always the same. If we truly want to place education as a top priority, we first need to respect those who are doing the job of educating. If you as adults don’t respect us, why should the children? Teachers with very few exceptions are working as hard as they can, but we cannot do this alone. Parents, administrators, communities, politicians and yes, students need to be part of the solution. Yet when things are not going well, all blame falls on the teachers. I teach both upper and lower level high school classes. My students would do much better if they spent an hour or two a week studying, but most don’t. Students who study, do all their homework, ask questions and put forth effort are a rarity these days. Parents do not want to be bothered, administrators keep shifting more and more non teaching jobs to teachers and communities and politicians don’t want to spend money, but when the scores are poor it is always the teachers fault. So to address a few key issues that are constantly brought up in the media:
    1) Merit pay – its been done before, many times. Go back to the late 1700’s and you can find cases of teachers being given extra compensation (often chickens or hogs) to produce better results. It has never been proven a successful method of compensation. First, administrators are human and have their favorites, who consciously or unconsciously, they tend to treat better. I have seen excellent teachers get poor recommendations simply because the principal had personal issues with them that had nothing to do with classroom instruction. Second, it fosters resentment among teachers who are now competing for a limited pool of money, which tends to reduce collaboration, an essential component of good teaching practices. Often the amount of money is so small that it seems more like a slap in the face rather than a complement. Finally, unless strictly regulated, different administrators and districts will have different measurement devices for applying merit pay, which leads to inequality between schools and districts.
    2) Linking pay and evaluations to student test scores – will backfire, for so many reasons, but to name just a few; teachers already are teaching to the test and in my district, at least one month to two months of instructional time is lost due to teaching just to the material that will be covered on the test. In my educational experience, this trend is only increasing. Cheating has already been found in several districts around the country. At this time it seems to be coming from the administrators (test scores are their bread and butter now), but if teacher jobs are tied to student test scores there will be teachers who will cheat, if not to get more pay, then to try to hold onto their jobs in tough economic times. Students are not products being produced on an assembly line. As a kid it took me four years to finally understand fractions. This had nothing to do with the teachers, most of my math teachers during that time were good teachers, but I had, and still have difficulty learning math concepts. Each child is unique and expecting them all to fit one mold is not only unfair, but completely unreasonable. I teach several science classes, when a child comes to me for chemistry, but they haven’t yet mastered basic math skills, then I have to take time out to teach these concepts so that they can learn chemistry, which of course shortens the amount of time I have to teach the concepts that they need in order to pass the state chemistry test. Some years the students are well prepared and some years they are not. Yet if my students do not do well on the chemistry test, I am supposed to take all the blame for that, even if they did not come with the prerequisite skills to begin with? As a public school teacher you get what you get. Some years you have a great group of kids who work hard and are prepared. Some years you get kids who are not prepared and don’t care. Business can do this because they can regulate the parts or materials that come their way. Educators don’t get to do this.
    3) Standardized testing – has its place, but we need to stop looking at it as though it is the only measure of a student’s worth. It needs to be part of an overall school plan, which includes standardized benchmarks, curriculum guides and portfolio assessments. Students learn in different ways, and many students are poor test takers, or have test anxieties. State tests have many limitations that make them poor assessments. At the onset you are forced to give these tests 3/4 of the way through the year, but the kids are supposed to have learned a years worth of material. Just what are we supposed to do with them for the rest of the year, especially at the high school level? I have had numerous kids tell me that we should just blow off the last month or two of school, since it doesn’t really matter to the administration anymore. Then after they take the test, they don’t find out how they did for 2-6 months, depending upon the state or year. This creates a massive disconnect. In a graduate course on testing, I was told that students shouldn’t have to wait for more than a day or two for test results, because otherwise, they lose interest and the tests do not have any real learning value. If a chemistry student of mine does not pass the state test, but did pass my class, they don’t care. In most cases the tests mean very little to the kids. I have often, as I’m sure many teachers have, had to ask a student to go back and try again, after they finished a 3 hour test in 15 minutes. You know they just bubbled in the answers. And after all is said and done you then compare the class of 2010 with the class of 2011, for the same subject, except that these are not the same kids and it is truly like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, you can compare the same child’s improvement in English or math, but chemistry, biology and physics are not the same and a child who excels in biology may do very poorly at chemistry. What we really need to do is focus more on each child and stop treating children as if they are all the same.
    4) I finish (I know, finally right) with equity – there isn’t any. Public schools are becoming more and more unequal. Vouchers do not help this matter, as they simply siphon off the harder worker students who have more devoted parents to private, or charter schools, and leave the less motivated to fail. Urban and especially rural schools are left with few resources. Teachers don’t want to work there, the parents that can afford to, pull their kids out, and programs and resources don’t want to visit. Rural schools have it the worst, because they usually have small numbers and are far from large cities and their resources. Most rural schools cannot afford field trips anymore and museums and other types of educational programs are usually based in big cities and cannot afford to travel to remote schools. Fund raising in rural schools is problematic since every single club and class has to fund raise for any extra curricular event, so small towns are tapped out very quickly. Just this past week, I’ve had to turn down five kids wanting to sell me everything from tamales to car washes. I can’t afford to help them all out when my physics club needs things as well. Rural schools are left behind, with fewer and fewer choices for classes and limited extracurricular activities. At present we teach the same life science class with three different text books, because we cannot afford more books. I have no more paper, and have to buy my own. I purchase most of my consumable science lab supplies out of pocket and have never once been reimbursed. Once again I am not the exception. Most teachers in poorer urban or rural schools and even some suburban schools spend a large amount of their own money on their students, most of which they cannot even claim as a tax deduction.

    Anyway these are some of the issues as I see them. I assume that no one will want to read such a long tirade, but I do appreciate the opportunity to vent. The past several years have been tough on teachers, and we really need your support in order to do the job you and we want to do. Loss of moral leads to burned out teachers and at this rate fewer and fewer young people will want to take on a job, with few benefits and limited pay, only to be disrespected by everyone no matter how hard we work. Today I received a letter from a student thanking me for everything I’ve done. I wanted to cry. It reminded me why I got into teaching. Children tend not to thank you and I totally understand that. They are very self absorbed at this stage in their life, but the fact that administrators, parents, the public and politicians don’t bother to ever thank, but continually criticize will only drive more and more good teachers out of the profession and discourage young people from wanting to enter the profession.

    • would it be okay to use some of your ideas in my paper for economics so i can pass high school? ha ha I see a lot of what your saying first hand because i attend public school and there’s tons of flaws in the current system and it needs to change especially were its assumed all students are the same and WILL learn “this” to graduate. instead they should allow the students to excel in whatever topic they achieve in since people naturally like to feel good about their work. And as you probably can tell, I’m not the biggest English major and I am horrible at writing an essays or responses. I do feel that as long as one can write a clear understandable sentence in the right sense of time you should be good. then again where’s the variety in that. haha

    • Thank you for sharing your experience as a teacher and your opinion as it relates to NCLB reforms. It is great to hear your perspective and your heart for your students. The section of your post that hit me the most was the section where you explained how teachers get little thanks or appreciation for the work that they do and how demoralizing this can be. I feel compelled to apologize on behalf of all us! Teachers are nation builders and deserve to be treated with the upmost respect, dignity and care. I believe true change in our nation’s public schools will only come about after we as a nation begin to esteem our teachers to the degree we esteem super stars, because that’s exactly what you guys are! With that said, I recently launched a blog called Cap.the.Gap, an online movement to close the achievement gap. I truly believe that a part of closing that achievement gap must start with changing the culture around how we view and support our nation’s teachers. In that vein, I am in the process of creating a feature page on my blog called, EducatorsRock! This page will be decided to highlighting to hardworking, committed and underappreciated teachers that make up our nation’s schools. I would love it if you would consider allowing Cap.the.Gap feature you as one of those teachers— because you Rock! If you are interested, please log on to http://www.capthegap.wordpress.com and check out the blog and then e-mail me at capthegap@gmail.com. I hope you hear from you and God bless our nation’s teachers!

    • Hello Quincy! I left you a comment but for some reason it posted under beny. please read the reply post under beny! thanks

    • If teaching is so bad, why did you not go back to the private sector? I was also in the public sector. I made less than 70G per year; the job had lots of stress, and included permanent on the job injuries for many of us. And ya, many nights, I came home hurting or with tears in my eyes. But the benefits were good, and the pay was decent and I raised a family. We also paid into a state/employee regulated private retirement plan, so I’m retired after 30 years and not at tax payer expense. I mean that No job is great… that’s why they call it “work” and not “fun”. We all struggle to survive and try to make our jobs better. I think most jobs involve a lot of crap and many people like me made less than you. By the way, I stumbled on this site by accident. I was researching the grade scandal in Alabama. Some of the teachers blamed Bush which motivated them to fix grades because of the high standards of the bill he passed. (No Child Left Behind). Ya, Bush passed the bill, but I was surprised to find that it was Ted Kennedy’s bill. And yea I am a conservative… I have no use for democrats or republicans, as I find them to be a 2-headded snake.

  4. I agree with both sides of the debate on ‘Fixing’ NCLB. On the one hand, there is no doubt that having a federal standard of teaching and requiring a certain amount of progress of schools will certainly increase the accountability of the schools and administrators to take newer, bolder steps to improve their education quality. Yet at the same time, there are several flaws with the law as well, namely in the methods of evaluation of progress. Standardized testing, and I can speak as a student who has gone through Florida’s standardized tests for elementary schools, are wholly improper as a method of reducing each student’s progress and abilities to a set of numbers and thus not creating a valid system of evaluation. Another problem lies in that funding for schools is already falling, and schools fearing financial consequences (should they not meet Adequate Yearly Progress) will have little room to improve given their current resources. The law is not perfect, few legislation is. It was created mainly as a Political move for Bush’s domestic policies, and to create a broader system of regulation in education, which had long been bereft of any efficient way of doing so. Yet at the cost of efficiency comes the threat of creating a cookie-cutter system that regards each child as being the same as the next, which any educator will tell you is ludicrous. If we allow a more loosely run system of evaluation, moving the focus from an overarching, bureaucratic concept to a more locally based one that will still create nationwide standards but allow them to be flexed to fit each districts’ capacities for improvement.

  5. I teach students who have disabilities of such significance that they simply cannot perform at the same level as their peers. We have been fortunate enough to be able to place these students in an alternative curriculum in which we teach our students how to function as independently as possible after graduation, and our students have enjoyed a wonderful rate of success. Unfortunately, in the last few years, we’ve been required to teach these students according to the exact same standards as their peers in the tested subjects. So instead of teaching these students how to count the change in their pockets or keep a balance in a checkbook, we are forced to try to teach them algebra (and the hard truth is, these students DO NOT have the cognitive ability to understand algebra!!). Instead of teaching these students how to read newspaper want ads (and related vocabulary), job descriptions, and employee manuals, we’re teaching them classical literature (that they don’t have the cognitive ability to understand). Etc. It’s an exercise in frustration for all involved. I am very concerned that the reauthorization process is not going to change this reality. If we don’t start letting the needs of our students dictate what we teach, we’re going to continue to see astronomical failure and drop-out rates!

    • Linda I agree with you. We need to start where our students are. A student that does not have their basic needs of food, Shelter, loving / nurturing parent/guardian , safety and acceptance, can not be compared to a student that has these needs met. Nor can a student that grows up in an environment with with shooting, gangs, and drugs on their doorsteps or throughout their neighborhoods, be compared to a student in a upper middle class suburb that lives in a safe neighborhood.

      The bottom line is these students have different priories and as a result ,different values. A teacher can not change these communities, dictate a parent’s choices or the neighborhoods of our students. The general idea is that improving our school (that are labeled as failing) will improve our competitive edge among nations and improve our economy with more citizens employed with better jobs and a highly educated population. What the President says is true, the best economic plan is one that produces more graduates (of course graduates that can obtain jobs.) . However, what came first the chicken of the egg? Is it our failing school systems or failing neighborhoods and family systems?
      I agree, there should be standards, but once we attach these standards to money, our goals of education become distorted. Schools obsess over raising standards (because they know what is at steak) and the needs of the students get lost. Schools become a business of numbers and statistics and all humanistic ideals, individualism, and creativity are disregarded. Yet it is not statistics that engages our students. It is the debates they have over a current news event/ political issue, a creative essay they write, their innovative brain storms about a chapter in a book. These are the moments that are being lost from our schools. These are the moments that once captured our students and the moments that are far and few between.

      The NCLB served it’s purpose to highlight the growing gap among different student populations. It allowed us to exam trends and focus energy for improvements, and that is where is should end. Teachers have students complete assessments everyday when they ask students questions about a daily lesson that help them to gauge student’s understanding of the subject matter being taught. If all teachers had portfolios and were required to document how they assessed each given lesson and there was a relative standard of subject matter then this should be sufficient. If the federal government wants to create standards, then mandate all students receiving a ‘C’ or lower to stay after school two days a week for torturing. Provide schools funding for specialized tutors and buses to take students home after tutoring. In addition, provide funding to have parent education course. EEL classes for parents. Jeffery Canada’s Charter programs in Harlem work because they start with parents, educating them on the most effective method for impacting their child’s development.
      A single assessment exam is not a valid measurement for academic proficiency. There are to many precipitating factors to assess such a wide rage of students. Standard tests does not answer the question of weather or not a ninth grade English teacher should pass a student onto 10th grade that started at a 4th grade reading and writing level and improved to a 6th grade reading level. If the student is passed onto 10th grade they will need to pass the 10th grade state assessment-when they are reading at a 6th grade level. If the student is held back he /she will be at a greater risk for dropping out of school. These are the dilemmas teachers face on a regular basis. Such dilemmas will never be answered by an assessment test. These dilemmas create the wide rage of student performance levels each teacher must try to accommodate in a single classroom. The Race to the Top will not work for a school that needs funding to make improvements, and demonstrating improvements is a requirement to quality to apply to the program. Rewarding improvements only works if schools understand what they need to do to make the improvements.

  6. As a Special Education Teacher, I have been extremely frustrated with the notion that all students should be able to perform at the same level. This is simply not the case. Think about it this way. Let’s imagine a battery of physical fitness tests was added to the testing program. This physical fitness test battery would include stamina, strength, speed and agility tests. Of course, in keeping with the rest of NCLB, EVERY STUDENT will have to pass the SAME test at the SAME level of proficiency. Students with disabilities will be allowed to use modifications such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, etc. Some may be allowed extra time to complete the test, but they MUST complete the test independently. Anyone who does not pass the test will also not pass the class, despite their performance in class all year. In order to prepare for this test, students will take similar tests quarterly. PE teachers and coaches will be held accountable for anyone who doesn’t pass this test, and evaluations (and probably eventually merit pay) they receive will be based on the results of these tests. Results will be compiled and reported as “proficiency levels” met for that school. Schools not meeting their expected proficiency levels may be considered “low performing” and run the risk that the entire staff will be replaced.

    This is precisely what is happening with the current policy. Does this really make any sense to anyone?

    • Linda, I am a special education teacher and have the same opinions as you. In Texas, we are being required to include our TAKS M students in the general education classroom with one special education aide in the classroom. My TAKS M students learn at a slower rate and can not keep up with the general student. The administration and diagnosticians say that strategies will solve the problem. This is not true. A child that has difficulty in retrieving learned information can not keep up in the classroom. When we were allowed to place the TAKS M students in the “Fundamental” classes, we could address the speed of learning/teaching to fit the child. We need NCLB to change. Allow the special education departments in our schools to teach the learning disabled child in the best environment. We accept our learning disabled children as they are. The general public needs to do the same.

  7. If we need proof that our educational system needs fixing, please read some of the other comments. There are grammatical, syntax and spelling errors. Does anyone proofread anymore? Maybe some children should be left behind to make sure they get it right!

    • Brilliantly put, Stacey. As a teacher, I appreciate the fact that you have called attention to the giant elephant in the living room! Thank you.

  8. First of all instead of spending $7,000 on murrells in lunch rooms put it to education. Instead of teaching the pass test stay teach them reading, writing and arithmatic. Instead of moving on in language and having alex lab, or counselor come in and talk about what you want to be do language and really do language, not have language 2 x’s a week. Stay on a subject long enough to learn it and do not teach children to read by keeping them in at recess and using a tape player reading to them for them to keep up in their book and half are laying their heads down. They do not need to be lectured, they need to be taught. K5-5th grades are being taught as college students with no books in SS and Science and Languae or spelling books. They stay on adv. adj. nouns about 1 week they also go over the test and watch a movie about it. Yes, the teachers need to be taught to teach. I agree it is not their fault, it’s the gov. We do not need to be taught PASS the whole year to pat ourselves on the back and say look what we have done. You have children that are dropping out, becuase half cannot read and if you can’t read you cannot do math. 504’s and IEP’s need help and teacher do not want to help, they take it is against them because they have not been taught to look for learning diasablilites. They don’t care and neither does the government. Cut the government paychecks and we can have a good educational system and probably get our nation out of debt. We better look up. Wheather we are a believer or not. We are in big trouble and we will answer to God.

  9. Everyday when I get home from work and turn on the television, I here news about the education system in our country being funded less and less every year. It seems to me that we need to really take a closer look at each states lottery program and find what’s going on. The biggest reason that each state has a lottery, is when they promote the idea to the public, the main focus is funding the education system for that state. If this is so, then where is the money going that should be used for schools.

  10. Stop letting teachers be in charge. They have failed for generations! US DOE needs to make them focus on helping us compete against other nations. They only try to compete against neighboring schools/communities. Look at products in our stores and where they come from. That is who we must compete against.
    When will we take education seriously? I see no attempt to see the whole picture, and that is why we fail.

    • take a quick peek at history and the prgrams we enacted during the post-USSR sputnik launch. I believe those programs disappeared because of their narrow focus. After the USSR fell, now what? meh, guess we don’t need to educate our children! yipee.
      No, we need to focus on internal imporvement before we try to compete with other nations. because, let’s face it, at this stage, we’d lose. And i agree that some teachers are sub-par. This is *probably* why Obama would like to introduce merit pay systems. obviously such a system has both pros and cons, but i think its a step in the right direction.
      finally, those products on the shelves in the stores you see are made in other countries not because theyre smarter than we are, but because they have far more lax human labor laws. So i say, if your goal is really to make more cheap products, get down to your local sweatshop and start sewing, mike! have fun.

  11. When will teachers understand the meaning of productivity? Mass production reduces costs. Example, textbooks are a class of millions(just make enough copies) and also a class of one(go at your own pace). Multiply the effects by multiplying the access. Use mass media, such as tv broadcasting, then provide help to those that need it.
    Does anyone remember Electric Company, Mr Wizard or Sesame Street?
    Let’s not let teacher’s teach without change. I was told in the 1970s that it took two years of college for Americans to catch up with the British. We’ve only gotten worse.
    Wen need to understand technology and not provide pitiful virtual learning like I’ve seen.
    We need solutions that benefit all, not just the rich or be limited to a classroom, school, community or state.
    Schools seem to insist on teaching like 200 years ago. When will thy understand they should be preparing students for tomorrow. Other countries will.

  12. Where can I find anyone interested in education? Most comments I see anywhere are not focused on education but on local issues. We try to fix education at the local level and this means solutions only affect a few. We can’t fix the nations problems unless we understand what our competition is-Other countries. We can’t compete against other countries by fixing each and every classroom. We must allow the government to offer a solution that is available to all. Then schools and teachers will have to improve above that minimum.
    We must give control to parents not teachers, the same as we expect when we shop in stores.

  13. This is to number 26..Donna I am so in agreement with you on this point. My son has ALOT of trouble with homework at home, we struggle most nights just to get him to comprehend the questions and yet in school he is doing wonderful and the teachers are so proud of him. My theory on this you just put out there, the teachers are basically leading him to the right answers and therefore he is getting it all right. I feel this is a major problem in the education system and again leads back to the NCLB. Let’s push all children forward so they get through school. But what good are you really doing for these children. I was told my son has an IEP and therefore he will Never fail,..SERIOUSLY? The schools will just keep adjusting the program so he passes. I am very upset that this was told to me.And it needs to be ammended or abolished.

  14. From my experience being a student when NCLB was put in place, I feel that we were treated as lab rats; instead of noticing the efforts we did make in our own time and place, we were subject to being gereralized by standardized testing. If the government could realize the tramendous amounts of pressure and stress that students are now facing, then perhaps students could focus their energies on excelling in other areas such as fine arts or leadership instead of the art of test taking.

    • HENCE, the reforms Obama proposes.
      did you read the article before posting a comment?
      AND, there are always going to need to be some type of “guniea pigs.” well, it just happened to be us. this too shall pass. and lets face it, PETA would throw fits if we tested on REAL rats.

  15. Special education is a joke. The teachers do not teach.. the regular ed teachers are burdened with having to deal with the students, ones who do not understand the content, it is 3 grades beyond their comprehension, yes they are laughed at, and they feel embarrassed, become more rebellious, or the class clown. The paraprofessionals are responsible for taking notes, learning the material, often while their students are sleeping, or being disruptive. Their case managers don’t care, out of site out of mind.. The sped teachers enjoy 2-4 prep hours a day, and may teach one remedial class to less than 10 students. The paraprofessionals, untrained, unlicensed are teaching the course material. They are the ones that read the tests and narrow down the answers, selectively making it a guessing game. Is it A or is it B? Since the paraprofessionals want to look effective at helping the students, they can easily offer the right answer when it appears the student might be failing. How do I know this? I was a paraprofessional for five years. I saw the waste, the joke, the enabling of your students. Parents you need to understand, your kids are not be educated. They are being enabled.

  16. It is too late to fix No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB and other federal initiatives in education are leading to a decline in our American school systems. These much touted reforms, based in the testing movement, are causing teachers, even the best teachers in public schools, to have less and less time to teach; consequently, their children are having less and less time to learn. I believe that NCLB and other laws that include testing students uniformly across the country should be eliminated. The funds should be redirected to pay off the deficit and to increase opportunities for teachers to develop excellence in teaching content areas, with a two-fold emphasis on academic knowing and pedagogy while using advanced internet technologies.

    The idiosyncratic autobiographical blindness of policy makers, bureaucrats, and legislators has led them to believe that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are widely accepted as good by educators and the public alike. They do not hear or see the objections. They do not understand the time being devoted to test preparation and testing is increasing so dramatically that children are not having the time to learn, and teachers are not having the time to teach what children need. These policies are leading to various forms of testing and data dishonesty throughout the country as tests are used for purposes that were never intended. Testing does not lead to improved learning although is does lead to slightly improved test scores. If this testing mania continues, children will have to learn outside of school because testing will become the entire business of the school.

    Because of the time devoted to testing, the curriculum is narrowing. Many schools have eliminated art, music and physical education, but the elimination of social studies and science in the elementary grades is growing because of the focus on testing in the areas of literacy and mathematics. A teacher recently explained to me that her eighth-grade, inner-city, African-American students believed that Martin Luther King, Jr. freed the slaves, and they did not know that many of our early presidents, including George Washington, owned slaves.

    I believe that we need excellent teachers in our schools. They must be bright and talented and committed to spending more than five years honing their profession as teachers. They also need our support because without them our children will not have a chance in the next century.

  17. To ADAMS #20…If you are a tutor for NCLB…why is your comment riddled with spelling and grammar errors? Clearly NCLB is a fail if the tutors cannot take the time to spell things like “enormous” correctly.

  18. Education should be based on the Constructivist view that states that students should be in charge of their own education. We need to teach children how to learn not how to take a test. All standardized testing does is help children feel bad about tests. I think if we teach children how to take accountability over thier own learning using Online Schools we can better act as facilitators of education and make children smarter. Obama is right about the NCLB we need to demolish this and start focusing on the transfer of skills to the younger generation and stop making them memorize useless math skills and the like.

  19. We need to fix government involvement to allow it to to help! The NEA does not allow it to offer even advice on how to improve. This leaves all educational concerns to tackle the problem from a micro perspective and this is expensive.
    We need to fix educators to recognize what influences other industries such as mass retailers and entertainment.
    We need to find ways to share improvements nationally and not fix one classrooms or school at a time, like the NEA wants.

  20. Teachers must understand that education involves learning, not teaching. Teaching should support learning. In industry, unions fight technology because it eliminates jobs, teacher unions are no different.
    Virtual schools are supported when they support teacher jobs not student learning.
    Teachers must act like any other professional and look to the industry as a whole instead of common labor defending its own self interests.
    We will only compete against other nations when we learn to exploit our strengths such as mass media and the internet.
    Research must focus on learning not teaching.
    If we want parent help we must supply them with help. The same learning resources that help students could help parents too.
    Stop whining about budgets and start looking for opportunities.
    I have yet to see anyone promoting “NARRATOR”, freely available on today’s computers as a way to help children learn to read. Look for audiobooks with their text versions.
    Stop complaining about too much TV and video games and try to use these opportunities to help learning.
    Anyone who complains about class size must not have seen movies or sporting events. Wake up and see what our children’s world looks like.
    We teach mass communication in our schools. That means we teach people to talk “at” each other not “with” each other. We must teach people to ensure that both speaker and listener send and receive the same message. What is wrong with asking “is this what you meant?” I have had trouble correcting misinterpretations.
    Support OpenCourseWare for k-12 and not just for college classes.

  21. i am a tutor of NCLB and i think this program is helpful for some of the students who are way behind in to their level, for example, i tutor students who are five grade level who can’t read second grade material, it would take enourmous efort and long time to uplift this adorabale students but atlist it helps.

  22. I, Steve agree we need to bring back musical,PE and other activities in the school for major arts progams. It gives them a challenge and something to do.

  23. To Joel, #5, thanks for pointing us to Alfie Kohn – I’m now reading all his links.
    To Tabitha, #14, I agree – your child should have all the help he needs and it is shameful that he doesn’t. It is children like this that I thought were the intended focus of NCLB. Sorry to be so mistaken.
    To Teresa, #15, I absolutely agree with paying our teachers what they are worth! How DID we get so upside down?!
    To Ryutaro, #17, I’m so glad we can help your country. A man from my church who is a physician and also Japanese is there now assisting your countrymen.

  24. First of all, Thanks President and all U.S. citizen for caring our disaster in Japan.

    I’m curious how the U.S.education policy goes on.
    I calculated the difference between SBAC group and PARCC group. It is obvious that PARCC group won the RTTT.(SBAC-PARCC 2-6, without the group which joins both group such as DE,OH)

    It is interesting that PARCC group has strict accountability system. As long as my data, it seems that they prefer to punish the low score school than help.

    Hope U.S. education helps the struggling people as like as U.S. citizen care about us in Japan.

  25. Do our country a favor and abolish NCLB and Race to the Top. Let teachers teach; let students learn; stop focusing and wasting precious time and funding on standardized tests. Children shouldn’t be terrified of school at such young ages because they may not “pass” a standardized test. Teachers shouldn’t be scapegoats to lack of conducive home environments for learning. Let children’s creativity once again be part of the learning process. Diminish childholld obesity and diabetes (and perhaps ADHD and ADD) in children by reinstituting physical education, recess and nutritous lunches for all of our children. Oh, and one more thing, pay teachers what you pay professional athletes in this country. Our priorities are whack, eh?!

  26. I have a child who desperately needs help, despite my constant working with him. I asked his teacher for help with therapy and she says he doesn’ t need it enough-go figure. Yet she writes negative comments on my sons papers on a daily basis. This no chiild left behind act should not have anything to do with testing and really be about actually not leaving the kids who need a little extra help from falling behind. By letting them get the help they need with support systems. Maybe after we accomplish that, MAYBE a testing act should be put into place.

  27. Ever since the NCLB Law was implemented education has changed and the way people view public education has certainly changed dramatically. Don’t people understand not all children learn, act, respond the same way. Children are different and measuring them based on ‘STANDARD TEST SCORES, then there is something really wrong with this picture. There are children who are good at drawing rather then writing, then are children who are better readers then math takers, and lastly there are children who are math whizzes, but don’t understand a Judy Blum book. NOT ALL CHILDREN LEARN THE SAME WAY!!!

    The NCLB LAW is a waste of time, and effort and not child should be measured based on a STANDARDIZED TEST SCORE. You can’t do that, because everybody is different.
    However, if you teach them life learning skills, and use children’s skills in school then you will have a world of a difference in every single classroom in all 50 states.

  28. Please remember parents are the children first teachers and they need to be at the table in the decision making of their children.

  29. The UCLA School Mental Health Project Policy Brief, entitled “Moving Beyond the Three Tier Intervention Pyramid: Toward a Comprehensive Framework for Student and Learning Supports” (http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/briefs/threetier.pdf) states that federal educational policymakers have focused to date (far too long, long enough) on a two-component educational model. The first component addresses curriculum and instructional practices. The second component addresses governance and operations of schools. The problem is, as they state, research has crystallized a third component that is essential to educational policy. The third component focuses on enabling learning and teaching by addressing directly and systematically the students’ external and internal barriers to learning and teaching and by directly and systematically reengaging the students’ who are disconnected from classroom instruction. These ecological and internal factors are frequently marginalized, indirectly addressed, or not even considered. The spotlight needs to shine equally on this third component and as brightly as it shines on the first two components. The stakes are too high for educational policymakers and educational leaders to continue to neglect the external and internal contexts of students’ lives. The stakes are too high to continue to hypothesis that if only teachers taught better and if only schools were more positive and less punitive, then education would be great or no student would be left behind. The stakes are too high to neglect that it may not matter how many interventions and differentiation teachers do; if the students in the school have external and internal barriers to disable learning, then it doesn’t matter how hard you work yourself, these barriers are still there! The stakes are too high for support staff to just learn a cookbook of academic and behavioral interventions that may address the presenting problem but may not provide the needed solution. The stakes are too high to not recognize that a person’s external and internal resources account for the greatest amount of change and addressing directly and systematically these external and internal barriers to enable learning is a powerful starting gate to creating powerful conditions for change!

  30. More testing is not the answer. “Accountability” has become a meaningless buzzword. Parents are completely left out of these plans and policy decisions, and yet the Supreme Court has ruled time and again that parents’ rights about their children’s education come first — not the state. And parents from Washington to Colorado, from Florida to Pennsylvania are organizing boycotts and refusing to let their children be subjected to pointless and stressful testing. In practically every public school in America, the pressure to improve meaningless test scores is reaching a fever pitch so that our kids are losing almost two months of learning to testing and test prep.

    Here in State College, PA one child stood up and said enough is enough. He said, “This is hurting my education, hurting my classmates, hurting my school, and hurting my teachers.” Some parents listened and organized a boycott of the NCLB testing here in central Pennsylvania. And now CNN is here today at the school taping a story of how a brilliant award winning school that has refused to “teach-to-the-test” is now labelled a failing school based solely on test scores. Researchers from Penn State study this school as a model for what works in teaching critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.

    As a parent, I don’t need a score on a standardized test to tell me if my children are learning what they need to be learning. I see homework, monthly unit assessments, and report cards full of comments and notes telling me where my child is excelling and where he needs more support. Most teachers are doing a great job and most parents agree.

  31. Fix NCLB?? Why don’t we abolish NCLB!! The United States needs to take lessons from Finland. We need to teach our children what they need to know to be productive citizens. Things like balancing checkbooks, income tax preparation, measuring through sewing or building things, etc. I was a computer programmer before I became a teacher. If I had a computer for every single student in my class, I wouldn’t need textbooks and my students would be able to use critical thinking skills that would make them productive citizens. If the government would stop the insanity by adding “standards” that need to be taught and let teachers teach and students to be kids, our education system would fix itself.

  32. Anyone who thinks government involvement interferes with local control must never have seen a library. We must support OpenCourseWare. This is the idea that anyone can not only benefit from a resource(like the internet) but also can contribute to it.
    Why do virtual schools support schools instead of learners?
    I refuse to sympathize with anyone who will not look to reduce costs. When teacher union websites include learner concerns, wake me up!!!

  33. Local control is hurting education. Will schools support education? Our local focus limits our search for solutions. We must look for solutions that can be contributed to by anyone and will benefit everyone. We must focus on learning, not teaching. Find ways to make learners more effective and efficient. That we learned from the industrial revolution. Educators must focus on adapting solutions to various learning styles and offer more choices to students. Anyone disagreeing with this probably has not recognized the entertainment industry.
    Teachers must act like professionals and look for ways to make learning easier, more efficient with higher quality and more productive (like other industries). Then they can focus on being managers, that is focus on adapting resources to learning styles, focus on assessments and practical application of knowledge. Act like dairy farmers and focus on managing the front end of a cow not on the details of milking.
    Look for professional math and science professionals to create resources like video lectures and software.
    I was told in the seventies that it took 2 years of college for Americans to catch up to the English. We only compare eighth graders with other nations.
    Fix education on a national scale then we will have the choices that local control requires. Then we will be able to fix all schools with less trauma.
    We must hire educators (learning 1st) not teachers (teaching 1st).

  34. The only way to FIX this is to get rid of the Department of Education and let the States have control of the schools once again!

  35. I have two SLD ( specific learning disabilities ) students . My eighth grader functions at a sixth grade math level . He is being left behind !!!!!! How dare you WASTE all this money on tests that are for testing a teachers ability to test rather than on a REAL full curriculum education ! My second grade SLD student is still at a first grade reading level and has repeated first grade once . My children are far from the only children being left behind in your useless to our students testing every single year !!!! You will continue to see them fall behind unless you do something right ! I do not want to have my country run be a society of under-educated children because you have on blinders ! Stop this money in your pocket , poorly planned program and give the classrooms back to a REAL education !!!!!!

  36. “Fix” NCLB??? There is no way to “fix” it. Ever since our country implemented this federally mandated bs our edcuation system has been on a continuing DECLINE! We teachers have had to stop teaching anything but math and reading because those are the test scores that “count”! When we’re not teaching math and reading we are teaching test prep strategies and taking assessments. And this is at the kindergarten level!!! NCLB is actually leaving a lot of children behind.

    Race to the Top is worse than NCLB because it ignores all of NCLB’s mistakes! This insane focus on scores, scores, scores is so ridiculous. Teachers are the scapegoats while there is no student or parent accountability. Instead of consulting with EDUCATORS we are getting our “reform” ideas from wealthy corporation owner (i.e. Bill Gates). What is wrong with this picture??

    You want to know how to “fix” this mess? Read Diane Ravitch’s latest book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System”. You’ll find some actual research (gasp) and some solutions. Ask Diane! Look to Finland! But please…stop doing what you’re doing! President Obama has lost my vote for re-election mainly due to Arne Duncan’s asinine “reform” ideas for our schools.

    • Danya, I totally agree with everything you said! This is absolutely a heated issue and we need to stop being so afraid of changing the system. It is obviously broken, call a professional repairperson! As a future teacher, I am fully aware of the issues facing me when I walk in the door. It is a little scary, but we need to fight for our children. We need to be the ones to affect change! As Americans we have such tunnel vision that we can not see how much our children are being affected by our broken and useless system. Standarized testing needs to be tossed, teacher unions have to go, and we need to treat teachers like every other employee. Their pay should be based on performance. How successful are their students? We need to find a way of testing our students that actually measures what they have learned. I agree that we still need to find a form of testing to measure the success of our students and teachers and compares them on a national level and international level.

  37. How are you going to fix No Child left Behind for children with no learning disability, but a need to learn differently ? For example children with Dyslexia ? These children DO NOT HAVE A LEARNING DISABILITY. They just need to be taught differently. Why do you and the DOE refuse to listen to the experts in this field. 1 out of 25 children have dyslexia and the schools want to put them in Special Ed. They don’t need special Ed. classes, they simply need multi-sensory teaching methods. Why aren’t teachers trained properly to even recognize this need in their kids ? Why does the DOE refuse to provide these children with the proper education ? Teachers can’t help them,they don’t even know what dyslexia is. They were never educated to recognize dyslexia. The most famous people in the world are/were dyslexic. These are gifted children who our government and DOE refuse to educate. hence,child neglect and abuse. So pls unless you really want to improve schools and help all children in general, WAKE UP ! Give them what they need. The schools systems need a total overhaul. make a change Mr.President, don’t just talk. Listen and make changes. Make the difference…make a move.

  38. When are we, as educators going to stand up for Learning!
    All we hear about is testing, testing, testing. Students are bored with testing and teachers feel as if what they have been trained to do…teach information, is overlooked for test scores! Test-taking strategies could be and should be taught to all students in an effort to assist them in How to approach testing, how to eliminate wrong answers and how to get through tests as quickly as possible. As you can see, none of these points have anything to do what the material taught and everything to do with the approach to test-taking. Students should be encouraged to Learn; gaining new information and learning how to transfer information learned to other areas and aspects of life is part of good teaching. Learning information and gaining knowledge transfers to test scores. Let teachers teach!!

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