School Board Asks Congress for Relief from No-Child-Left-Behind

The Clarke County School Board has joined a growing number of professional education associations in asking for regulatory relief from requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

By a unanimous agreement Monday night, the Clarke County School Board authorized letters to US Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb and Representative Frank Wolf citing that ESEA, more commonly known as “No Child Left Behind,” is more than three years overdue for congressional re-authorization and is widely recognized as flawed and in need of improvement. The letter goes on to charge that ESEA accountability requirements will result in more than three quarters of American’s public schools being labeled as “failing” in the coming school year.

“As you have been made aware, Congressional inaction has allowed the current [ESEA] legislation to remain unaltered for almost three years beyond its original re-authorization date. Meanwhile, current law mandates annual growth in the arbitrary standardized test pass rates required for schools to meet the federal standard for ‘adequate yearly progress,’ or AYP,” Clarke County School Board Chairman Barbara Lee (Millwood) said in her letter to the three congressman. “As you know, failure to meet AYP represents a serious negative judgment against a school and its community.   If you believe such a label is appropriate for any of our schools, we challenge you to visit one of them and point out any evidence to support that designation.”

At Monday night’s school board meeting several members took the opportunity to criticize No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policies.

“NCLB has been responsible for a serious decline in our schools and the level of standardization in our SOL (Standards of Learning) and has done nothing more,” said school board member Robina Bouffault (White Post).

“The NCLB criteria was unattainable in my opinion,” said school board member Janet Alger (Russell). “We need to replace it with something more realistic.”

NCLB was originally proposed by the administration of  President George W. Bush  immediately after he took office and supported in the Senate by the bill’s co-author  Senator Ted Kennedy. NCLB was passed with strong bipartisan support in Congress.

NCLB focuses on standards-based education reform based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The NCLB act requires states to develop basic skill assessments for students if the states are to receive federal funding for schools. NLCB does not assert a national achievement standard, rather standards are set by each individual state.  If NCLB is ultimately jettisoned, as many educators hope, it will have been a costly educational experiment for the American taxpayer. Since enactment, Congress increased federal funding of education from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $54.4 billion in 2007. Funding tied to NCLB received a 40.4% increase from $17.4 billion in 2001 to $24.4 billion.

The school board’s ESEA letter, which will be sent to the three congressmen on Tuesday, complains that a school’s failure to meet NCLB standards results in a “drastic misrepresentation of the accomplishments of American’s public schools,” and “does more harm than good and undermines the hard work of millions of educators and students across the nation every day.”

The letter goes on to say that “America’s public schools and the students they serve deserve relief from the onerous regulations that are widely acknowledged to be both unfair and overly burdensome,” and urges the US Department of Education to exercise its regulatory authority to relieve school  districts from the constraints of the current ESEA statutes until Congress moves forward with complete reauthorization of the NCLB act.

“We therefore hope that the enclosed Resolution will inspire your vigorous attention to this matter,” Lee says in her letter to Warner, Webb and Wolfe. “The Clarke County School Board still believes that its schools do not need “grand reforms” from the federal government.   Our schools merely need Congress to fix the obvious problems with the existing version of ESEA.   And we need Congress to fix those problems now.”



  1. Right Winger says:

    It would be even better if they just abolished this fiasco alltogether.

  2. My 2 Cents says:

    Yes this is long overdue! For the hardwork that I personally see from a spouse that’s a teacher ,is complete garbage. The amount of time that is eaten up at home alone is absurd! Thanks a lot Dubbya for that one…..

    • Uh you do realize that Teddy the Lion heart wrote the piece of legislation? Don’t let the facts get in your way. You may now return to watching the Communist News Network and PMSNBC.

  3. Dealing with this through my school aged kids, I think the intial idea was a good one. But, like most other things that government gets it’s hands on, it got jacked up over the years, resulting in teachers “teaching” the test instead of making kids think and learn

  4. Clarke 1 says:

    My wife is a teacher and I see first-hand how NCLB has affected her. The hours that she is forced to put in at home is absurd. Not to mention the standards alone are unattainable. I get the idea of what the Government wants from our teachers, however reality is another thing. This is long overdue and I hope this gets the ball rolling.

  5. beentheredonethat says:

    Well, herein lies the problem::Yes, you are great parents and you participate in your child’s education . Most parents do-and do care deeply about their schools.

    NCLB was created as a ” safety net” for those kids who were not as fortunate to have you as a parent. If not for NCLB, so MANY MANY kids, harmless and innocent would not achieve.

    I feel very sorry for Clarke 1’s wife and her her longevity without reward at CCPS. My son’s guidance counselor and princiipal at Clarke think’s 100 percent that NCLB is atttainable. Your wife’s negativity may stand in the way.

    • Herein lies the real problem. Not every kid learns at the same pace. Not every kid is interested in learning. Instead of actually “learning” about subjects, kids are taught now to look for answers. They don’t know “why” something is the correct answer, but they’ve figured out how to work the system. Having been an instructor in the Air Force, I can tell you that most tests are constructed in a certain fashion, ie;

      The color of the grass is ______________

      A) 8
      B) long
      C) blue green
      D) green

      Of course, the correct answer is already among the four choices. You know one is completely whacked,so you are left with three choices. One choice is almost completely whacked, which leaves two answers and 50/50 odds of getting the question correct. Of the two, one is the correct answer.

      Again, if children aren’t just being flat out taught the test, they get this dynamic. And of course the teachers are game to do what is necessary to get all the kids to pass because failure brings consequences, such as a reduction of federal funds etc. So the focus has become doing whatever is necessary to show all the kids passed the test without concern for HOW little Johnny achieved those results.

      Personally, I think the Federal government needs to get out of the education business. It’s track record is miserable and only getting worse

    • Clarke 1 says:

      Actually its not negativity! Its called reality! 9 out of 10 teachers will agree! The only people that are sold on this is the Administrators, because they have to be! And the parents who don’t know the whole story!

  6. Heir A Parent says:

    NCLB has done nothing to improve education. Teaching children that life is one of four choices is wrong. It demeans the purpose of education as a tool for real thought and discovery. Nobody in the history of mankind has achieved 100% in any endeavor, so how can we suddenly assume that it will happen now?

  7. A Teacher says:

    As a teacher who has taught regular and special education I also see that NCLB has NOT improved education. It has improved the how well a child can take a multiple choice test and that is all it has done!!! It is not effective at assessing mastery for all students. Teachers are held accountable for scores- as it should be. However, teachers are also held accountable for the scores of students who learn differently and demonstrate mastery differently. Students who may show their mastery of skills in ways such as hands on, discussion, drawings, matching, and oral responses etc.. In no way does NCLB allow for students like that. In every single school I have taught in, the population of students that “bring down” the scores are the ESL and special education students. I firmly believe that there should be a different way to assess these students who work SO hard and make SO many gains but then “fail” this standardized test. It is ridiculous to hold these students who have Learning Disabilities, Behavioral issues (all which affect their academic performance) to the same standardized tests. It is like expecting a person with a heart or lung problem to run a marathon with an extremely healthy, well trained marathon runner. Totally preposterous!!!

    To “been there done that” your principal and guidance counselor know full well that these type of students are not capable of demonstrating mastery in the ways that NCLB demand. They of course are not going to say that to you. Because we all have to have these expectations that are handed down from our government. I have these expectations for my students as well. However, reality is..this is not going to happen. You live in Clarke right? You don’t see the impoverish children who have never been read to or even seen book until Kindergarten. These children are already so far behind that they can’t catch up. These are the children who do not do homework therefore the only reinforcement of skills is what the teacher is able to do with them. With upwards of 30 children to 1 teacher and various levels the reality is..these are the children who are unable to make proficiency…See the big picture..not just Clarke!!!

    A little reality check for you “beentheredonethat”

    • beentheredonethat says:

      Thank-you for the elightenment. Are you aware that ther are currently 14 disctricts in the Commomwealth that have a 50% or more free lunch (poverty) population who SOL scores far exceed Clarke?

      You are more than welcome to blame it on the parents….or as most dedicated educators I know: do someting about it!

      • Just another educator says:

        As you can imagine I wholeheartedly agree with “A Teacher”, and as one who has also been in the trenches through the NCLB ordeal I know firsthand how the constant push for scores has negatively impacted the quality of public education for our children.

        Although I understand the original need for some kind of assessment or at least consistency across district/statelines regarding curriculum and basic student acheivement, the constant teaching toward tests and evolution of curriculum has led to a very lopsided education that focuses on certain subject areas and allows limited time for creativity by teachers. This has resulted in a major disservice to children who learn at many levels- and have different strengths in many different areas (which may include subjects other than math or reading…. subjects that are at risk because all resources are being poured into testing areas.) Many teachers cannot delve into certain chapters that students find fascinating, add enrichment activities or spend time when students need extra help. Everything focuses on the final SOL test so all year the timelines are set, pretests and post tests are given … and then the big tests are over and several weeks of instructional time in May and in June are completely wasted. As a parent I am frustrated SOL tests actually count toward some CC High School final grades as they do not require traditional studying- and I hate the fact that many teachers stop teaching the last few weeks of school (my own daughter is a freshman at CCHS and felt many of these days were a complete waste of her time). As a teacher I understand that students have been conditioned over the past ten years to work toward a standardized test that stresses mediocrity- and does not reflect much about them as individuals (it’s not like the students ever learn what it is they got wrong.) And once the test is taken school is OVER.

        I was appalled a couple of years ago to hear at my middle school that our AYP was dependent on various subgroups which represented something like 10 percent of our school population. I was actually in a training session about “Differentiation in Instructional Techniques” at the time- and discovered some of our Spanish-speaking students (ESL) who had moved to our school mid-year also fit under special needs categories and some also fit the free and reduced lunch categories… All of the labels have drawn such negative attention to the subgroups! Instead of teaching the individual children we are supposed to label them and bring up their scores so the percentages in certain subgroups don’t bring down the whole school’s AYP….. so the administrators started doing their homework— going through names of children who had been in the school system awhile.. names that sounded Hispanic to check if one parent had a Hispanic background and could be counted in that particular subgroup…. It’s all just a numbers game!!! Funding and School AYP all dependent on scores and numbers, NOT the actual education of individual children.

        Anyhow, I’m just another educator. Soon to be extinct I’m afraid. With all the pressure of AYP and budget cuts and increased class sizes and public disregard for our professional experience or educated opinions I have to wonder who in the world will choose education as a career in future years. May as well move to China where educators are respected and paid well- and only teach the best and brightest (no sub-groups there!)

      • A teacher says:

        You are welcome for the enlightenment….I’m sorry you misunderstood my post…I IN NO WAY blamed parents…are you taking offense to that for a reason? I am a parent, as well as a very well educated and very experienced teacher that has LOTS of experience with students with special needs..My angle was geared toward students with special needs and ESL and how multiple choice is NOT and accurate assessment for these populations. Have you worked with children that have special needs? I have extensive experience in this area and in the past 10 years from what I have witnessed only in rare occasions are these students able to pass the SOL’s. If they do, it’s because they are only eligible for very minimal special education services (monitor services, consultation, SLI etc)

        If you read my post above correctly I only mentioned the lower socio-economic group at the very end and what I meant was this is usually the population that do not have access to the things others do at home..therefore reinforcement of skills is not happening as much. You have to practice and review in order for the newly learned skills to go from short term to long term memory. Those districts you mention with 50% or more free lunch- yes passing scores are absolutely possible!! Please take the time to look into your stats before throwing them around. If you look at those 14 districts and look at the sub groups I am sure you will see that the struggling/failing students are the Special Ed, ESL and lower socio-economic students in those districts. I am not blaming anyone! I was raised in a lower socio-economic household…what I am saying is they are not able to have the same access at home, they are not able to demonstrate mastery in the same way and this IS NOT THEIR FAULT therefore they SHOULD NOT BE ASSESSED in the same way as other students that do not have disabilities.

        wanna talk Virgina Stats…

        Here ya go:

        Congressional Quarterly’s CQ State Fact Finder Series: State Rankings 2011 just arrived, and, as usual, the numbers tell a story. There is always a data lag, and the 2011 report uses 2009 data. The education specific rankings come out in October.

        Virginia is 12th in percentage of students attending public schools (94%)—1,235,795 students attend our public schools. There are 71,415 public school teachers in Virginia.

        In only eight states is there a higher pupil-teacher ratio than in Virginia (9th). The ratio here is 17.3. Utah is the highest (23.7), and Vermont the lowest (10.5). The national average is 15.3.

        Virginia’s teacher salary ($51,559) is $4,510 below the national average ($56,069). New York has the highest ($72,708) and South Dakota the lowest ($35,201).

        In “Average Teacher’s Salary as a Percent of Average Annual Pay,” Virginia ranks last – 50th (102%). The national average is 120.2%. Rhode Island is the highest (135.9%).

        In 4th grade reading VA ranks 7th. In 4th grade math VA ranks 16th.

        Virginia’s graduation rate of 77% ranks 23rd. The best is Wisconsin at 89.6%. Nevada has the lowest ranking at 51.3%.

        Virginia continues to be the 7th wealthiest state in the nation as measured by per capital personal income.

        Virginia government tax revenue as a percent of personal income (4.7%) ranks 45th. The national average is 5.9%. The high is Alaska at 16.4% and the low is New Hampshire at 3.8%.

        So… as it stands “beentheredonethat”…obviously Virginia is the 7th wealthiest state, teacher’s salaries are still 4,500 below national average and Virginia’s teacher/student ratio is so high that there are only 8 states with higher ratios in all of America…yet our 4th grade Reading was ranked 7th and 4th grade Math ranked 16th…guess what I MUST be dedicated and I AM doing something about it…since I have been a 4th grade teacher for the past 5 years, so my scores are included in those stats above! Thanks!

        PS…and what did you say you have done personally about helping students in Virginia to achieve passing SOL scores??????

      • Heir A Parent says:

        To get to your gist, there is already a field leveler function in play with the Standards of Quality (SOQ) that determines a district’s ability to pay for education. Your point that 14 districts exceed Clarke County is kind of masked by the fact that there are 226 school districts in Virginia and that puts Clarke in the top 94% of them. Come again??

        • Smellin roses says:

          Correction – there are only 132 school divisions in Virginia. That person’s point about the 14 divisions, with a larger poor population than Clarke, performing higher than CCPS students despite their poverty is perhaps poorly written.

        • A teacher says:

          Exactly Well said Parent!!! Percentages can totally be interpreted in so many different ways. And out of those 14 districts that have 50% or more (free lunch as “beenthere” put it), has he/she broken down their sub-groups to see who the passers are and who the struggling Fail/Fail below basic scores are? When you look at how the schools break them down into sub-groups, you really see who are consistent passers (or students at least close to passing) and the consistent sub-groups that are scoring in like the 200’s. Which means (on the Mathematics grade 4) these students are only getting like 4 or 5 problems correct out of 50 questions…So…hmmm are they saying this is the teacher not preparing them when they are getting 45 wrong…NO WAY!! This means that this is a totally inaccurate assessment for these students. Maybe they don’t understand the language or reading 50 language filled questions is too distracting and laborious that by the time they get to the answer, they are too fatigued from decoding words to even cognitively decide what the answer could/couldn’t be. That means this is not the best way to assess this type of child. Our government NEEDS to make exceptions for these students and revise NCLB to account for these students who learn differently and demonstrate mastery in a different way. I am not saying for all students. But I think we consistently see who the students are scoring these extremely low scores 250/300 and below in my opinion. Or maybe it could just be a change for students who have certain qualifying factors. Or a change of the percentages that are demanded to increase every year. When the year comes to have 100% pass proficiency demanded from the is NOT going to happen, if these sub groups who consistently fail have to keep being assessed by the same standardized tests that they are already unable to show their mastery on. WE WILL NOT MAKE THAT 100%…there is no way to change who students are, you cannot take a disability out of a can accommodate, modify, help with adaptations, but only to the extent the government allows on a standardized test. There are very strict guidelines and when it comes down to it, a flexible break, or assistance with directions that (is allowed) does not help the student who has a short term memory deficit remember the information he learned in October and keep it until May/June. NOT Fair! Should NOT be assessed in the same way…PERIOD! Wake up Government..get over yourself and start to see students as individuals who learn and demonstrate mastery in individualized ways!!!! I am so glad Clarke took a stand and stood up for these students. They have been swept under the rug long enough. Thanks Clarke! Frederick County could learn a thing or two from you!! 🙂

  8. Because I Care says:

    I agree with multiple posts above. NCLB does not work. It falls well short of actuallt teaching kids something. Time would be better spent on teaching children HOW to study and the benefits of self-discipline for such behavior. I also would like to see brief study guides provided to the students BY instead of the students creating their own study guides with the use of index cards.

  9. As the mom of a special education child I can only hope changes are made for all of our children. The SOL’s I feel have become a hinderance in our teachers abilities to teach. My son loves to learn and with many extra hours put in at home has managed to make honor roll all year in 8th grade, yet he will probably not pass one SOL. The manner in which the questions are written, the amount of questions, and the speed the teachers must maintain in covering the SOL’s leaves little time for our kids to enjoy learning much less retain the information. For the most part it seems like memorizing the information has become key. Teachers have no choice but to plow through the material and since in most cases this isn’t retained we are constantly having to re-teach our children (special Ed. or not) information they should have already grasped. How frustrating for teachers who should be teaching their classes at a certain level but can’t build on knowledge that just isn’t there and once again are teaching our kids to pass the next SOL.