State school chief: Let's suspend No Child Left Behind
by Laura Johnson
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Apr 17, 2012 | 5135 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama’s state school superintendent says he will ask the Alabama Department of Education this month to support him in an attempt to freeze benchmark provisions in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Superintendent Tommy Bice made the comment Tuesday in a speech at Word Alive International Outreach in Oxford.

“No Child Left Behind, when it came into play, was absolutely what we needed to happen,” Bice said. “It’s outlived its purposefulness.”

The state’s chief educator was in town to address roughly 350 state school employees attending an annual luncheon for the Alabama Association of School Office Personnel.

If the state school board backs Bice’s proposal, he will ask the U.S. Department of Education to halt the annual academic objectives implemented under the act. The objectives are used by each state to determine whether schools are complying with the federal legislation.

Bice will also recommend the state develop a new accountability plan to replace No Child Left Behind. That plan will then be presented to the federal government, he added.

“It is time we start aspiring to something greater for our children,” Bice said.

Passed under the Bush administration, No Child Left Behind aimed to ensure students in U.S. public schools meet basic academic standards. It was also intended to hold educators accountable for what students are -- or are not -- learning.

Educators in recent years have criticized No Child Left Behind, saying it set unrealistic goals for some students and systems. The act mandates that all students, including those who are developmentally delayed, be proficient in certain academic skills by the year 2014.

No Child Left Behind helped improve test scores for some underperforming students initially, Bice said Tuesday, but now is bringing down scores for high-performing students.

An "accountability team" at the Alabama Department of Education has been developing the replacement plan for about a year, said Malissa Valdes-Hubert, a spokeswoman with the department.

The state accountability plan would emphasize growth in individual students’ academic achievement, department officials said.

At the Tuesday luncheon, Bice also criticized the state’s graduation exam. He added that he will back a policy that shifts the academic focus from preparing students for standardized exams to preparing them for college and for careers.

Star Staff Writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @Ljohnson_star.

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