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ESEA/NCLB Update #136

Waivers may lead to a more well-rounded education for students

Education Week reports that most states are broadening their accountability systems in their waiver requests to include other subjects besides mathematics and reading. Most experts agree that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) resulted in narrowing the curriculum because only reading and mathematics scores were used to rate schools’ achievement. Science is the most popular subject to include, but many states include writing and social studies as well.

Transforming schools through the arts

In a joint project between the Department of Education (ED), the White House Domestic Policy Council, and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, eight schools from around the country will receive funding to ramp up their arts program. The program will “test the hypothesis that high-quality and integrated arts education boosts academic achievement, motivates student learning and improves school culture.” The Washington Post reports that Secretary Duncan commented that arts was pushed out of schools because of budget cuts and NCLB. 

Groups call for less reliance on high-stakes testing

In a move meant to highlight the destructive high-stakes testing environment brought on by NCLB, the National Education Association (NEA) has joined with FairTest, 11 organizations, and several prominent individuals to promote a National Resolution on High Stakes Testing. NEA President Van Roekel commented, “The overuse of standardized tests for high stakes decisions has shortchanged students, teachers and our education system in too many ways for far too long. We’ve lost sight of the reason tests were designed—to help gauge students’ comprehension and progress.” Other initial signers include the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Parents Across America. 

Investing in our neighborhoods

ED announced new grants for their Promise Neighborhood Program. The Promise Neighborhoods support cradle-to-career services to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for students in our most distressed neighborhoods. The 2012 grants offer $60 million dollars to existing grantees as well as for a new round of planning and implementation grants. Applications for the third round funds are due July 27, 2012. 

Time for a change in CTE

Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a new blueprint for transforming Career and Technical Education (CTE) through reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. Duncan stated that the new knowledge economy calls for an overhaul of CTE so that “…students earn an industry certification and postsecondary certificate or degree—and land a job that leads to a successful career.” The Obama Administration’s FY 2013 budget includes a $1 billion investment in CTE, calling for changes in four areas: alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation. 

Take Action:  Tell Congress to take action on student loan rates

On July 1, more than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent unless Congress steps in to keep them low. Tell Congress to act now to stop student loan interest rates from doubling.

(Published April 27, 2012)

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