Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Child Left Behind faces changes

Go to AP original
WASHINGTON - Unable to push education fixes through Congress, the Bush administration is taking its own pen to the No Child Left Behind law.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says she plans to make a host of changes to the education law through regulations being unveiled Tuesday.

Among the biggest changes will be a requirement that by the 2012-13 school year, all states must calculate their high school graduation rates in a uniform way.

States currently use all kinds of methods to determine their graduation rates, many of which are based on unreliable information about school dropouts, leading to overestimates.

States will be told to count graduates, in most cases, as students who leave on time and with a regular degree. Research indicates students who take extra time or get alternatives to diplomas, such as a GED, generally don't do as well in college or the work force.

While states will no longer be able to use their own methods for calculating grad rates, they will still be able set their own goals for getting more students to graduate. Critics say that allows states to set weak improvement goals.

The six-year-old education law is President Bush's signature domestic policy initiative. The law requires testing in reading and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. The stated goal is to get all kids working at grade level by 2013-14.

Lawmakers recently tried but were unable to pass an updated version of the law due to disagreements over how to judge schools and teachers, among other things. Without a renewal, the existing law stands.


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