Photo credit: Alberto G. via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

NCLB Rewrite Fails Again


Photo credit: Alberto G. via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: Alberto G. via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

An op-ed from APIA Senior Fellow Jane Robbins and Ohio mom activist Heidi Huber in

Parents across the nation are in open revolt against the testing mania that has seized public schools under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Common Core national standards. In some states, thousands of students — 200,000 in New York alone — are refusing the “mandatory” assessments. One would think the Washington politicos who are writing the NCLB reauthorization bill would take note of this widespread rebellion and would ease — or better still, eliminate — the federal testing requirements. But unlike the repentant thief who returns the loot, the federal government never willingly relinquishes power it has stolen from the states.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are collaborating on an NCLB rewrite dubbed the “Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA). This bill maintains NCLB’s requirement of administering annual assessments in English and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But ECAA doesn’t ignore the “opt out” movement – in fact, it adds language that effectively encourages the states to lower the boom on noncompliant students and parents.


During recent debate on ECAA, an amendment was added that nominally protects the right to opt out of assessments: “Nothing in this part shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent or guardian to not have the parent or guardian’s child participate” in the federally mandated assessments. But this language wouldn’t apply unless a state or locality has a law affirmatively protecting the right to opt out, which few do. And while this language could prohibit USED from punishing parents or students who choose to opt out, it would not appear to affect measures taken against states, districts, or schools. If the bill intends to protect the states against retaliatory measures from USED, it should say so. It doesn’t.

Read the rest here.

Jane Robbins

Jane Robbins is an attorney and senior fellow with the American Principles Project.

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