Since this is an election year and W wants as little criticism of his policies as possible, the Ed Department is making some changes in No Child Left Behind. Under the new rules, students who are English-language learners will not be counted in the statistics of a school for their first year in that school. Students will also continue to be tagged with the ELL label for two years after they’ve learned English. Since ELL students make up a hefty part of the population at some schools, that should lower the failure rate – at least until after the election.
This tinkering with the stats will make people happier in the short run but really doesn’t alter the fundamental problems with this train wreck of a law. What bothers me even more, however, is what’s coming.
At a news conference, Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige said he is planning more changes over the coming weeks, including a new, more flexible interpretation of the requirement that all students be assigned a "fully qualified teacher."
Teacher quality standards in NCLB are all ready rock bottom. Under the law a "highly qualified" teacher has a degree in their subject area and is certified by the state (rules which vary widely). That’s not "highly qualified"! That’s minimally qualified, and Paige is planning to water down those rules even more. In his news conference, Paige said that he wants this law "to make common sense". Keep trying.