ABC News’ Sunlen Miller and Mary Bruce report:
President Obama used his weekly address to announce that on Monday his administration will send Congress the blueprint for an anticipated overhaul of the “No Child Left Behind” education law.
“Through this plan we are setting an ambitious goal: All students should graduate from high school prepared for college and a career – no matter who you are or where you come from,” Obama said in his weekly address. “Achieving this goal will be difficult. It will take time. And it will require the skills, talents and dedication of many: principals, teachers, parents, students. But this effort is essential for our children and for our country.”
The current law, signed by President Bush in 2002, requires student achievement to be measured through standardized tests. Currently, states set their own standards for academic success and may risk federal funding if they fail to show adequate yearly progress in achieving their goals. Critics claim the system encourages states to lower standards so that they can report significant progress.
The blueprint will replace the accountability system with a new one focused on helping students graduate from high school college- and career-ready. Under the guidelines, the schools that achieve excellence and show “real progress” will be rewarded.
“What this plan recognizes is that while the federal government can play a leading role in encouraging the reforms and high standards we need, the impetus for that change will come from states, and from local schools and school districts,” Obama said. “So, yes, we set a high bar – but we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it.”
The president said that there will be cynics who claim this sort of reform can’t be done, but he highlighted the risks of American students falling behind other countries out-competing the United States. The president said that the nation’s lost ground on education over the last few decades “risks our leadership as a nation,” and, “consigns millions of Americans to a lesser future.”
The president’s budget includes a $3 billion increase in federal education spending, including $1.35 billion to continue the “Race to the Top” grant competition for education reform. An additional $1 billion in funding is on the table contingent on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind.
-Sunlen Miller and Mary Bruce