Why Arne Duncan is threatening to withhold funds for poor kids

Sep 22, 2013 by

Valeria Strauss – It’s hard to decide which of the following aspects of the U.S. Education Department’s fight with the state of California over standardized testing is worse:

* Education Secretary Arne Duncan is threatening to withhold some of the approximately $1.5 billion that California receives annually from the federal Title 1 program — funds intended to help poor children receive an education — if state officials don’t agree to implement a standardized-testing regime that he likes.

* He would rather have the state give students standardized tests that California officials say no longer reflect the curriculum than to allow kids to go a year without being tested.

* He is trying to come down hard on California as a way of warning other states not to try to defy the Education Department.

* He is selectively enforcing No Child Left Behind, a law that he admits is fatally flawed and should be scrapped.

What’s this all about?

California passed a law (AB 484) to abandon the standardized tests that have been given to students for years because the state adopted the Common Core standards and is revamping its curriculum. The old tests don’t reflect the new curriculum, so it would seem to make infinite sense that kids should no longer have to take them. While new tests aligned with the Common Core are being designed, state officials want to replace the old tests with a limited version of the exams that are coming in 2015 — but only in those districts that have the technology to administer the exams, which are to be done on computers. That makes infinite sense, too. Because this is an experiment, California officials don’t want the scores of the tests to be included in an official measure of school quality.

But here’s the problem: The No Child Left Behind law, which Congress was supposed to have rewritten in 2007, remains in force and mandates annual exams. To implement this plan, California would need a waiver from the U.S. Education Department exempting it from No Child Left Behind mandates. Duncan began offering waivers from the most onerous NCLB mandates in 2011 to states that agreed to implement reforms he liked, and 34 states and the District of Columbia obtained them.

via Why Arne Duncan is threatening to withhold funds for poor kids.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts


Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.