Archived Information

Obama Administration's Education Reform Plan Emphasizes Flexibility, Resources and Accountability for Results


Contact:  
Sandra Abrevaya, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov


The Obama administration's blueprint to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) will support state and local efforts to help ensure that all students graduate prepared for college and a career.

Following the lead of the nation's governors and state education leaders, the plan will ask states to ensure that their academic standards prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace, and to create accountability systems that recognize student growth and school progress toward meeting that goal. This will be a key priority in the reform of NCLB, which was signed into law in 2002 and is the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).

"We will work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to reauthorize ESEA this year," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said about the blueprint, which the Obama administration released on Saturday. "We owe it to our children and our country to act now."

NCLB highlighted the achievement gap and created a national conversation about student achievement. But it also created incentives for states to lower their standards; emphasized punishing failure over rewarding success; focused on absolute scores, rather than recognizing growth and progress; and prescribed a pass-fail, one-size-fits-all series of interventions for schools that miss their goals. The administration's proposal addresses these challenges, while continuing to shine a bright light on closing the achievement gap.

"To make ESEA work, we have to fix accountability and get it right," Duncan said. "A rigorous and fair accountability system measures student growth, rewards schools that accelerate student achievement, and identifies and rewards outstanding teachers and leaders. NCLB says that fifth-grade teacher who helps a student reading at a second-grade level reach a fourth-grade level, within one year, has this missed their goal. In fact, that teacher is an excellent teacher and should be applauded."

Under the Obama administration's blueprint, state accountability systems will set a high bar of all students graduating from high school ready to succeed in college and careers. The accountability system also will recognize and reward high-poverty schools and districts that are showing improvement getting their students on this path, using measures of progress and growth.

States and districts will identify and take rigorous actions in the lowest-performing schools. The administration has proposed a significant investment to help states and districts in these efforts.

Under the ESEA blueprint, states and districts will continue to focus on the achievement gap by identifying and intervening in schools that are persistently failing to close those gaps. For other schools, states and districts would have flexibility to determine appropriate improvement and support options.

With states setting high standards we must ensure that states, districts, schools, and teachers have the support they need to help students meet these higher standards, especially in high-need schools. The blueprint asks states and districts to develop meaningful ways of measuring teacher and principal effectiveness in order to provide better support for educators, enhance the profession through recognizing and rewarding excellence, and ensure that every classroom has a great teacher and every school has a great leader.

"We're offering support, incentives and national leadership, but not at the expense of local control." Duncan said. "Our children have one chance for a great education. Together, we need to get it right."

The administration's priorities for ESEA are attached. Copies of "A Blueprint for Reform" are available at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint.pdf.



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