Students in Delaware will return to school later this summer focused on learning, achievement and good grades, without a care in the world the federal government will label their schools as “failures.”
Students in Ohio return to schools that will be assessed in easy-to-understand letter grades that specifically summarize overall student achievement, not just a pass/fail grade.
Students in Iowa will return to schools anchored to the disastrous No Child Left Behind standards that are dooming most American schools to failure.
Delaware and Ohio are among 19 states that put together comprehensive, timely requests to the federal government to replace the No Child standards that have punished local school districts for a decade.
Critics early on saw the uselessness of No Child measurements backed by former President George W. Bush and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Those measurements required all students in every school to pass a standardized test. No meaningful testing program can assure 100 percent passage. That impossible measure sounded good on Capitol Hill.
It created meaningless rote work in American schools, where teachers and parents know that students proceed at different paces and excel in different areas.
So while the rest of the world raced to embrace technology and individualized learning, the U.S. anchored students to standardized dot tests that determined how federal aid would be used and, ultimately, who would control local schools.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan projected that 82 percent of American schools are on target to fail this measurement by 2014.
He championed the waivers to encourage states to innovate better solutions since congressional leadership is incapable of reforming the flawed assessment.
Iowa’s failure to get students out from under these useless tests falls squarely on elected leaders. Gov. Terry Branstad on Thursday blamed the Legislature, one suitable target.
Lawmakers of both parties failed to pass his comprehensive education reform plan before surrendering with tepid measures that didn’t meet the minimum federal requirements.
But Branstad can’t hide from accountability. He opted for his comprehensive Blueprint for Education but failed to muscle it through the Legislature.
By ineffectively managing his reform through the Legislature, Branstad and his education chief, Jason Glass, left Iowa school kids anchored to the failing No Child measures for at least another year.
Branstad showed muscle on other issues, notably on May 11 when he issued an executive order overturning a legislative ban on using lead shot to hunt mourning doves.
That’s right. He used executive power to appease a handful of hunters. But for Iowa school kids, the governor was less forceful and effective.
So Iowa teachers and students next school year will jump through hoops that 19 other states have abandoned in favor of more effective, useful tests that actually help students instead of labeling their schools, and them, as failures.