16 December, 2015
States and local communities in the United States gained more control over education standards and testing last week.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed the education reforms into law last week.
"After more than 10 years, members of Congress from both parties have come together to revise our national education law," Obama said. "This law focuses on a national goal of ensuring that all of our students graduate prepared for college and future careers."
The new education reform law urges the 50 state governments to limit how many and how often students take tests. The law limits the high-stakes nature of the testing for underperforming schools. And the national government will not be able to tell states and communities how to evaluate schools and teacher performance.
But states and schools must still give reading and math exams in grades three through eight, and in high school. The states will have more authority in setting standards for the tests.
Congress passed the measure easily. Republicans and Democrats supported it.
No Child Left Behind
The new law replaces the No Child Left Behind measure approved in 2002. It called for extensive testing and standards set by the national government.
Parents, teachers and lawmakers found that policy unworkable. They said it gave Washington bureaucrats too much control over the country's 100,000 public schools.
"This bill makes long overdue fixes to the last education law. It replaces a one-size-fits-all approach to reform," Obama said.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is one of the measure's chief authors. He said, "This new law will result in fewer and better tests because states and classroom teachers will be deciding what to do about the results of the tests."
The law's other key sponsor is Democratic Senator Patty Murray. She said the new focus will be on early childhood education. She added that minority and poor children will benefit, and get a better start in their earliest years of school.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Words in this Story
bureaucrat – n. a person who is one of the people who run a government or big company and who does everything according to the rules of that government or company; a person who is part of a bureaucracy
high-stakes adj. - used to describe a situation that has a lot of risk and in which someone is likely to either get or lose an advantage, a lot of money, etc.:
one-size-fits-all – adj. suitable for everyone or every purpose