Education Reform

Education reform is in the works, and you can stay updated on the latest changes, debates, and policies here. Learn more about No Child Left Behind and how it impacts your child. Explore how federal and state government is working to improve school performance, student achievement and education standards.
View the most popular articles in Education Reform:
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Editorial: Common Core Standards a Good Place to Start, but More Work is Needed
The Common Core Standards were created in order to facilitate greater academic progress among K-12 students, and seek to provide consistent academic benchmarks that students must meet. While Common Core is a step in the right direction, there are some concerns that need to be addressed before they reach their optimal effectiveness.
The Common Core State Standards began, in part, as the brainchild of Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona. As the chairperson of the National Governors Association in 2006-2007, Napolitano created a task force on education that released a report calling for standardized benchmarks in education. That report eventually formed the basis of the Common Core State Standards, which thus far have been adopted by 45 states, Washington, D.C., four U.S. territories and the educational branch of the Department of Defense.
 
Today, the Common Core is a set of high-quality, rigorous standards that outline what children should learn, know and be able to do at each grade level in the areas of math and language arts. The standards seek to address the variability between state-level educational standards that have for years produced high school graduates with widely ranging academic abilities.
 
 
The Common Core Standards are both relevant and rigorous. Students are engaged in activities that build higher-ordered analytical skills, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving skills that are necessary for success in today’s world. In that regard, the standards are not focused solely on acquisition of knowledge, but the application of that knowledge as well. Additionally, in states where the standards have been adopted, students receive comparable instruction no matter who their teacher is or what school they attend, which helps eliminate variability in student preparedness. Although teachers still have wide latitude in the delivery of lessons, they each have the same target in the end: student
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Do Public Schools Need to Teach More Math and Science?
Some educators and community leaders are pushing for more math and science at the high school level. Is the move really necessary and if so, how do schools get students more interested in these STEM subjects?
Math and science are the backbone of the education system in the United States today, as STEM fields come to the forefront of the global marketplace. However, if one examines the test scores of U.S. students, it becomes clear that students in this country are not taking sufficient math and science to make the grade. As the U.S. continues to fall in math and science rankings on a global scale, many educators and business leaders are leading the charge for more rigorous math and science requirements in high schools. Will more math and science really make the U.S. more competitive?
 
U.S. Lagging Other Industrial Countries
 
Last year, William Bennett, the former U.S. Education Secretary, reported at CNN that the United States scored 23rd in math and 31st in science among the 65 top industrial countries in the world. The Wall Street Journal also issued a report, citing a warning in a report from the United States National Academies that stated the U.S. was losing ground in both math and science skills. Even as the U.S. has made some improvements in math and science test scores over the past decade, the country still lags behind many other countries across the globe in these key areas.
 
In addition to losing a global competitiveness, the U.S. may be cheating itself out of future math and science advancements. The CNN article also reported that only 26 percent of the high school seniors in this country score proficient or above on math examinations, and
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Students Protest Standardized Tests
With the standardized test season approaching, we look at recent protests of the tests by some students and school districts.
‘Tis the season for standardized testing at public schools across the country, as school districts gear up for statewide testing that provides a glimpse into how and what students are learning. The season is not typically met with happy anticipation by most students and teachers; in fact, the mood may better be described as anxiety and even trepidation. In a few areas of the nation, students and teachers are taking matters into their own hands, organizing boycotts of tests that some say are a waste of valuable instruction hours and inaccurate gauge of how well schools are teaching and students are learning.
 
Portland’s Opt-Out
 
With the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) examinations looming in Portland, some students have decided that enough is enough when it comes to the statewide testing process. Members of the Portland Student Union have launched an opt-out campaign to protest the examinations with a district-wide boycott by students. According to U.S. News and World Report, members of the student union are encouraging other students to boycott the examinations, by opting out on test days. This video reports the situation with Portland students protesting standardized tests.
 
 
The Washington Post reports that ideas of the boycott began to circulate when two different Portland Student Unions got together and realized they shared a common concern involving the state examinations. The students involved in the unions began educating themselves on the impact a boycott of the testing might have on
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10 No Child Left Behind Waivers Given by President Obama
Learn about the 10 waivers President Obama recently offered to states in exchange for promises of upcoming improvements.
As deadlines for No Child Left Behind program began to press on schools nationwide, many states have realized that they would simply be unable to make the standards set by the federal legislation in the time frame allotted. As a result, President Barack Obama has granted waivers to 10 states that requested them, allowing them to free themselves from the sweeping requirements of NCLB. In exchange, these states have pledged to continue their work on academic improvement, both in terms of student performance and evaluation.
 

Why Waivers Were Necessary

No Child Left Behind was the highly touted and bipartisan legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush. The purpose of the law was to ensure every student in the country was proficient in math and reading by 2014, including traditionally underserved students like those from low-income areas, minorities, students with disabilities and kids still learning the English language.
 
However, many have complained that the federal system of accountability did not allow states sufficient flexibility in developing systems that worked for their kids, and that it encouraged teachers to simply “teach to the test.” Many states are also showing signs already that they will be unable to meet the federal guidelines in a timely fashion, which has prompted the request for waivers in many states. President Obama recently called No Child Left Behind “an admirable but flawed effort that hurt students instead of helping them,” at CBS News.
 
By providing waivers to some states, the President has
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Why 82% of Public Schools are Failing
Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimated that 82% of this country's public schools are not passing the test in educating our children. Learn about the remnants of the No Child Left Behind Act and how the Obama administration plans to raise the bar on standards of education in this country.
The Obama administration had plans to overhaul the nation's education system when they took office, but budget battles, health care, and other priorities took center stage. Now, it appears that education will quickly be moving to the forefront as the current year's test scores from around the country show that the large majority of schools in the United States are missing their mark and headed for failure. With the No Child Left Behind Act created by the Bush administration now headed to the chopping block, the quality of education in this country is set to get another look by Congress this spring.
 
What is the No Child Left Behind Act?
 
According to a report at the Washington Post, the No Child Left Behind Act was a signature educational initiative that originated with President George W. Bush in 2001. The goal of the legislation, which received bipartisan support at the time of signing, was to require schools to bring 100 percent of their students to proficiency in math and reading by the year 2014. Proficiency would be evaluated through annual exams given to students in third through eighth grade and one additional test during high school.
 
 
Reforming the No Child Left Behind Act has been a focus of the Obama administration because the current president would like to revamp the structure of the legislation to make it more appropriate to the current state of schools today. Part of the changes President Obama would like to
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