With 'No Child' done, testing is de-emphasized

No Child Left Behind, the controversial federal education policy that has shaped schools across the country for more than a decade, is scheduled to die Thursday.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers chief Jerry Jordan is scheduled to be in the room when President Obama signs "Every Student Succeeds," legislation passed Wednesday by the Senate on an 85-12 vote.

"The tide is turning," Jordan said. "This is a recognition No Child Left Behind - the test-and-punish era - has been a failure."

The new law, tied to about $26 billion in federal spending, de-emphasizes testing. It will return to states' hands the power to reform schools that do not meet standards created by the states themselves.

States will still have to measure students' annual progress in third through eighth grades, and once in high school.

Under No Child Left Behind, passed in 2001, schools could be labeled failing by the U.S. Department of Education and either shut down or converted to charter schools. Critics say the law caused an overreliance on standardized testing, with educators forced to prepare students for exams rather than teach.

No Child Left Behind faced particularly harsh criticism for penalizing districts such as Philadelphia, which educate predominantly poor students and continually failed to measure up to federal benchmarks.

Jordan, who will attend the White House event with American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, said he was particularly gratified by language in the bill that calls for decreased class size and no longer tying federal funds to teacher evaluations.

"This law," Jordan said, "is going to go a long way to letting teachers teach."

kgraham@phillynews.com

215-854-5146@newskag

www.philly.com/schoolfiles

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