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Big NCLB announcement

September 22, 2011

President Barack Obama is set to make a big announcement Friday about flexibility on the federal No Child Left Behind Act… And he has invited Governor Lincoln Chafee to attend. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist will also be there.

Large numbers of schools across the country have struggled to keep up with performance targets set by NCLB, which require a increasing number of students to score proficient on the standardized tests also required by the law. In comments earlier this year, Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan signaled that waivers would be available for states as Congress debates re-authorization of the federal education law.

Rhode Island education officials have indicated interest in applying for a waiver. Dozens of public schools in the Ocean State failed to show enough progress on student test scores to meet federal standards last year, and the bar will be higher this year.

One of the most confusing aspects of NCLB is that most states developed their own standardized tests, and the definition of proficiency can vary widely from one place to the next. Critics of standardized testing often point out that scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal testing program commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card, have barely budged over the last decade despite all the focus on standards and testing.

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