“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.