Georgia gets it right and wrong on ‘No Child’ change

Say what you will about the No Child Left Behind federal education law — and plenty has been said by folks on all sides. The law promoted two important ideas: that schools should be held accountable for verifiable progress by students, and that kids trapped in failing schools should have the choice to escape for a better education elsewhere.

In that light, Georgia’s request to be exempted from key parts of the law offers a big step forward on measuring achievement, and a small but significant step backward on choice.

The biggest problems with No Child Left Behind were two-fold. First, it was a top-down, federal intrusion into education policy, which ought to be a state responsibility.

Second, it put all the achievement emphasis on a single test. In Georgia’s case, that test managed both to lack rigor and to leave unscrupulous educators room to cheat to ensure their classes made the crucial Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

After schools in Atlanta and Dougherty County were found to have committed widespread cheating on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, or CRCT, there were calls to de-emphasize the use of standardized tests as evaluation tools.

Thankfully, Georgia wants to move in the opposite direction — by including more objective ways to judge schools.

If anything, the new lists of criteria may be too long. There are 20 factors in play just for high schools, ranging from the graduation rate to the percentage of pupils earning a Work Ready Certificate or scoring well on Advanced Placement tests. By including so many factors, we run the risk of diluting the meaning of each one.

But if the Obama administration approves the new criteria — and the president’s Friday announcement about changing the law suggests that’s likely — no one will be able to say that the fate of a teacher or school rested on how a group of students felt on the morning of a particular test.

Best of all, Georgia will chart its own course based on our specific needs, rather than having it set by federal educrats.

Georgia needs more high school graduates who are ready for the workplace, technical schools or universities. The new criteria are designed to push schools to produce more of those graduates. (Importantly, high schools’ scores would suffer if too many of their graduates required remedial education in college.)

On the whole, all this is to the good. Here’s what isn’t — so far:

No Child Left Behind gave a choice to students in schools that consistently failed to make AYP. They could transfer to other public schools. Now, Georgia wants to drop that provision.

The state says less than 5 percent of students opted to transfer. That may seem like a small number, but “if it gave even two students the ability to get a better education than they were getting, it was worthwhile,” argues Eric Cochling, a vice president at the pro-school-choice Georgia Family Council.

I agree.

School choice has been reeling in Georgia lately. A baby-step voucher bill has died in the state Senate each of the last two years, and the Supreme Court dealt a huge blow this spring when it struck down our strongest charter-schools law.

The choice provision of No Child Left Behind wasn’t adequate, but it was better than nothing. Dropping it might be forgivable if the Legislature expands public and private choice options next year. If not, it’ll be a stain on an otherwise positive change.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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98 comments Add your comment

Michael H. Smith

September 23rd, 2011
6:47 pm

Might as well stop messing around, Kyle. Amend the State Constitution that will settle the issue once and for all. The court cannot rule the Constitution, Unconstitutional.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 23rd, 2011
8:08 pm

Have to disagree with your acceptance of de-emphasizing the standardized tests. Students who learn things do well on tests. Education bureaucrats who want to cover up their lack of success look for creative ways to pretend they’re doing their jobs. Hence they want to do away with the rigorous, standards-based testing approach and go with the mushy, easily manipulated subjective measurement system.

the red herring

September 23rd, 2011
9:31 pm

arne, obama, issackson, etc need to let the local and state governments handle schools— we have little to no need for federal involvement. let people take their tax money and educate their children and decide where they need to go. force public schools to live within the $$/student ratio that private schools live with—watch excess administration and benefits fall… don’t force property owners to pay for thousands of children they didn’t sire and if these people pay the bills then let them have a major “say so” in how these children are educated, what will be expected of them, and how much is required to educate them. People having children that want them educated must take a major role in seeing that is done. Ever since Zell was in office education in georgia has been a black hole for taxpayer dollars—- no problem with my tax dollars paying some money to educate the youth in georgia that really want an education—major problems with paying tons of money to educate children who don’t really want an education… again– parents should be the main source of the funding for their children’s educations. instead of simply using children as a “means to an income” — the parents of these children should understand they will be the ones that have to foot at least a major portion of the bills for their children —- want birth control?? here it is…. want education standards raised?? give those people actually footing the bill for education control over education…. then listen to parents and education unions/associations howl…… if as a property owner –i’m paying for 5 kids education–then i should have a say so over how they are educated and what is paid for the administrations and educators…. the parents who don’t want to participate other than in the creation of the child then they should have little to no input….

Yappy Little Tea Cup Poodle ~ AKA "Fuzzball"

September 23rd, 2011
10:07 pm

Wow. Deader than canasta over here.


September 23rd, 2011
10:09 pm

No Child left behind was designed to fail. It’s simply another nail in the coffin of public education. The Republican agenda advocate defunding and dismantling the public school system. The Republican philosophy embraces the dumbing down process. Republicans demand that the largest slice of the pie go to the smallest number of rich people. The Republicans believes that the best way to keep salaries low with no benefits is to dumb down the population. Dumbed down people are encouraged to engage in racist, sexist, homophobic and zenophobic divide and conquer tactics. They waste their time with afterlife activities. The state of Georgia should dump no child left behind immediately and return to the Rote immersion method of teaching.


September 23rd, 2011
11:56 pm


I am simply amazed at your partisan rhetoric; To try and include “charter schools” and “vouchers” in the NCLB folly is beyond belief. The NCLB bill was a dishonest attack on public education. To include the other attacks is simply amazing. You know, I really wonder what people like you really want – to dismantle public education!! Your ignorance (arrogance) is simply amazing. Maybe one day you can have an article about what is positive about public education (NOT!!).



September 24th, 2011
5:43 am

Public schools work. In the past, the student and parents were equally responsible along with the teacher. Now the parents want to blame the school system and teacher. How about the student being responsible for his/her own actions?

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 24th, 2011
5:43 am

ODD OWL: Republicans demand that the largest slice of the pie go to the smallest number of rich people.

And how has this demand manifested itself in terms of Republican policy?

Didn’t think so.

Road Scholar

September 24th, 2011
5:53 am

You actually complemented President Obama? While you only used his name once, he is the one who is making this possible. I know it pained you greatly to give him credit. Now jump on the parents who need to get involved and set responsibilities and goals for their children.

LBB: We agree for once! Between Kyle complementing President Obama and us agreeing…their must be something falling from the sky..oh, wait, there is!

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 24th, 2011
7:24 am

Postal workers to protest planned pension cuts

Local U.S. Postal Service unions plan to hold a “Save America’s Postal Service” rally in Lawrenceville Tuesday.-Urinal

So, uh, how will they “save” it if they don’t cut the budget?

Oh yeah, I forgot, we’re dealing with government liberals here, unable to manage their budget, they want Other People’s Money to throw down the rathole.

Just sayin……..No more!

Ayn Rant

September 24th, 2011
7:32 am

Wrong! Wrong, on two counts. First, whether good education policy is top down or bottom up is unimportant, but a national education policy is preferable to thousands of local policies. After all, we’re Americans first and citizens of states and communities second. Certainly, a comprehensive curricula cannot be devised locally; it would require the efforts of the best educators in the nation and the world. Since schools don’t have tangible curricula, there is no definition of what a child should learn, nor any basis for testing or assigning blame.

Second, schools are not, and cannot be, responsible for whether or not children learn. Schools are responsible for teaching, children are responsible for learning, and parents are responsible for seeing to it that their child learns to the extent of each his intellectual capacity.

School choice is a political, not an education, issue. All public schools should teach the curricula to a high standard. If a child needs additional assistance in learning, audio/visual supplements and individual tutoring are far more effective than switching schools.

But the key to it all is a comprehensive, tangible curricula that defines just what schools should teach and children should learn. With a curricula, effective lessons could be developed and taught, clever aides to learning could be developed, and a basis for measuring progress would be established.

As usual, politics permeates and paralyses all aspects of American life. We’ll surely continue to quarrel over, and takes sides on, issues that divert us from effective public education. And, Kyle is eager to assist by trumpeting the notion of school choice as the solution to everything.


September 24th, 2011
7:35 am

“Thankfully, Georgia wants to move in the opposite direction — by including more objective ways to judge schools. If anything, the new lists of criteria may be too long. There are 20 factors in play just for high schools, ranging from . . . By including so many factors, we run the risk of diluting the meaning of each one.”

Kyle, not only diluting the meaning, but also imposing a new level of time-consuming data collection, graphs, reports, etc. further reducing instructional time and increasing mental overload of parents, teachers, and students. In other words, accountability has reached its limits.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 24th, 2011
7:50 am

Ayn Rant: a national education policy is preferable to thousands of local policies.

Hmm. Our education policy has been getting more “national” over the last three or four decades. Are we improving relative to the rest of the world? We are not. If nationalizing our education policy is such a great idea, why all the concern over the performance of our schools and students?

As with so many things, government is not the solution, it is the problem.

The Union of Gonzo against Obozo

September 24th, 2011
8:15 am

Education in America needs a appendectomy.

The Democrat POS Party and their appendage The National Education Association can all Kiss My Glock!


September 24th, 2011
8:21 am

LBB: On this one I think that I’m somewhere between you and Ayn. There should be some sort of National consensus on core skills and ways to measure those skills. However, there also needs to be room for local needs to be addressed. As an example, teaching Ag science in NYC schools would be pretty much a waste; in central Nebraska, not so much.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 24th, 2011
8:27 am

“Education…needs an appendectomy”

Actually, it needs a libtardectomy.

Gonzo's Mamma

September 24th, 2011
8:28 am

That nice young man Kyle Wingfield deserves a much better readership than he has in these hateful liberals who constantly attack him with their vitriol for expressing his compassion and concern for the children’s education and their parents right to choose.

Shame on you mean old greedy stingy liberals who are unwilling to share the public education wealth with the poor pitiful poor underfunded private education sector!


September 24th, 2011
8:29 am


Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 24th, 2011
8:39 am


Apparently those “Yankee teachings” didn’t include proper deployment of apostrophes.

Stevie Ray

September 24th, 2011
8:40 am


Does it seem to you that with every new administration over the past 50 or so years, we get new pitch on how broken our education system is and how they have a better fix? Yet according to so many, our systems is the bane of our existence? After awhile, it’s kinda like catching invisible jello…

BTW, STUPID POOR REDNECKS, thanks so much for your intellectual contribution to this medium. Perhaps you can share the origins of your education?

New York leads in Adult Illiteracy

September 24th, 2011
8:42 am

The adult illiteracy of New York ranks in the top five nationally, Mr. Yankee. :lol:


September 24th, 2011
8:52 am

Social experiments in education have been going on ever since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” days. Minority students, at the time, were consistently scoring lower on test scores than other students. Now, after 45 years of one Govt. “program” after another, minority students are still scoring lower on test scores, on average, than other students. Political correctness and votes will never allow politicians to acknowledge the obvious reason for this so, look for still more costly and useless social engineering in education.


September 24th, 2011
8:53 am

Seems to me that STUPID etc. etc. at least choose an appropriate name.


September 24th, 2011
8:59 am

Why the false concern for minority students? Just means there will be less competition for the better jobs for you and your kind. Besides, aren’t the dollars spent for education going for all students? Your focus on just minorities is flawed.

Tyler Durden

September 24th, 2011
9:06 am

Poor Lil’ Barry: his world is so small, it only has room for partisan rhetoric. Anything else, like logic, empirical evidence, or GASP, reality, simply won’t fit.

Too bad your Mom’s basement isn’t large enough to fit anything besides you and your ‘one-size-fits-all, guvmint is bad’ logic…

Buzz G

September 24th, 2011
9:08 am

We need school choice and a voucher system. Let people choose their own school, just the way they choose their own doctor or lawyer. And give vouchers to people to pay for it. A lot of countries have school choice. Yet here in “the land of the free” (hah!) we have a Soviet Union style schools system where the government tells you what school you must send your children to or lose your school taxes. Under such a system good schools will thrive and inefficient schools will whither. The main obstacle to such an effective school system is the teachers unions. They are not going to allow their well padded paychecks touched. They also will not allow competition or any effective measurement of their performance. Teachers unions are an unbelievable enemy of our children.

Stevie Ray

September 24th, 2011
9:22 am

Carlos, I hear you. My experience has been that student success is all about parental involvement as opposed to test scores et al. Additionally, it seems to me that traditional education is not everyone’s cup of tea and a poor measure of the person. Perhaps more trade schools and practical knowledge (work habits, budgeting, volunteering, traditional trades) would much better serve many of our kids as opposed to calculus, physics, literature……

APS 4th grade teacher

September 24th, 2011
9:26 am

Posted yesterday on Maureen’s blog:

Yes, some teachers cheat and I fully support their actions. I think caring professionals must take a stand; in fact we have a moral imperative to do what is in the best interest of our children.

And given the current conditions, cheating one or two days out of the year is in their best interest. This way, our students can be exposed to a well rounded curriculum and their scores will reflect that wholesome learning has occurred. Quite frankly, when committed teachers sacrifice to cheat, students are not aware. It is a profound act of kindness given the possible consequences to their careers

I keep telling everyone that we are working in a surreal, system-wide, pressure cooker environment. Both direct and indirect* cheating are the norm. We are all familiar with direct cheating, either through personal experience or by reading the comprehensive coverage given to the APS scandal. Unlike indrect cheating, it simply speaks for itself.

*Indirect cheating that is now occurring daily, and is sanctioned by the APS administration, entails teaching to the test. This practice calls the very validity of the test into question. All year we drill from “item banks” (questions derived from earlier editions of the test or questions made up in the same format of the exam that are aligned with objectives being tested). Of course, you are going to see gains, albeit false gains.

If you engage in this foolishness every day, year end and year out, all but the most academically challenged students will make “progress” on the test, but they have actually learned very little. Contrary to what many believe, test results are not a reflection of quality instruction. So many of our parents and the public are knowingly being duped! An institutionalized conspiracy continues.

I have been teaching for twenty two years and it has not always been this way. APS has devolved to this sick state of practice within the last ten or so years. So many of our most promising children have been and are currently being neglected.

What we are being asked to do to our children is criminal!

Thank you very much,
Fighting in the Trenches

Michael H. Smith

September 24th, 2011
9:28 am

Teachers unions are an unbelievable enemy of our children.

How true, how true.

Amazing how many dumb people fail to put teachers unions a.k.a. The NEA and the Democrats together on the same ticket. I mean you really have to be missing more than just a few brain cells not to connect the constant harp from the Democrats screaming about the need of more education money, which of course includes big pay raises for union teachers and the NEA pumping all that union teacher dues money back into the campaign coffers of the Democrats who just got them all a pay raise.

What a bunch of crooks. The Mafia should demand their cut… Oops, I forgot, they still have lil hoffa on the payroll… my bad.


September 24th, 2011
9:31 am

Stevie Ray

What you say makes a great deal of sense and would be a substantial improvment to our educational system. That mean, of course, that our politicians and educators will never do it.

Rick in Grayson

September 24th, 2011
9:42 am

The state of New York has a set of standardized exams for just about all subjects of study in grades 9-12. They are known as the Regents exams. The results of these exams allow state officials to compare between all schools in the state. I never felt that teachers were “teaching” to the Regents exam in any subject. The exams certainly were not terrorizing students or teachers. If you failed (less than a grade of 65) a Regents exam in a subject, you received “local” credit towards a HS diploma. Those passing the exams received “Regents” credit and in my HS I believe those students received a “merit” diploma.

There is nothing wrong with standardized testing. We all know that grade inflation is rampant across the US compared to grades 30-40 years ago. It is impossible for colleges to compare GPA from different schools in Georgia and unthinkable across states.


September 24th, 2011
9:44 am

So, Kyle, the President does something that is 100% in line with conservative orthodoxy – ie, divesting power from the federal govt and directing it to the states – and you see fit to criticize him? Pathetic. I really believe that if the President were to come out tomorrow saying emphatically “vote republican, all the time, everywhere,” we’d see a piece from you on Monday titled “The President is wrong and a liar” excoriating him for being a two-faced Marxist fascist. (yes, you read that right, I said you’d say ‘Marxist fascist’)


September 24th, 2011
9:47 am

The problem with vouchers and students transferring to “better schools” is that a good majority of those transferring students were the discipline problems effecting instruction in their previous schools. So let’s just poison another well. Typical denial, and political, solution, just move things around.


September 24th, 2011
9:50 am

See…pro-choice is alright. You bible thumpers could learn a thing or two from the few sensible Republicans

Stossel my John

September 24th, 2011
9:51 am


September 24th, 2011
9:57 am

@ Michael H. Smith… Really? “which of course includes big pay raises for union teachers” — yes, it’s hard to keep the best and brightest out of the education classes. They all are clamoring for these well paid jobs. Yearly raises (oh, sorry, forgot, no raises for years), well huge salaries… people are abdicating from their pre-med and business major programs to enroll in teacher-ed classes. It’s a sure way to a easy life and riches. What universe do you live in Mr. Smith? Really!


September 24th, 2011
10:08 am

I am concerned how you start off with children suffering in “failing schools.” A huge problem with NCLB is that a concern in one area could label an entire school failing. Unfortunately, when that happened, students who were thriving in their schools were the ones who tended to leave and not the students who needed the help. I would offer that the only students who would be allowed transfers should be the ones who the school was “failing” (as you put it).

School choice – there’s always been school choice. If you want your child to attend a private, parochial, whatever school, get a job and pay for it yourself. One duty of government is to provide public goods and services where the market has failed. If we left education strictly to the market, too many students would be left behind because of a lack of ability to pay for private education. We need an educated populous to keep the Republic strong…. if you want to get political, however, I feel too many people currently in office (both parties) count on American ignorance to stay in office.

The “blow” to the strong charter law was right. I’m sorry, but I don’t want some bureaucrats who I don’t elect and have no control of taking my tax dollars to fund schools that my elected officials turned down for whatever reason. I have used the example of Ivy Prep many times and will do so again here. Personally, I supported Ivy Prep and its goals. I also supported Gwinnett County Public Schools in its case. I had the responsibility to vote against Dr. McClure for his vote against Ivy Prep and I did, but how could I vote against a member of the Charter School commission if they allowed a school to open that I thought was bad for the state? How could I vote against a member of this commission for taking my tax dollars without my consent to fund something I oppose?


September 24th, 2011
10:18 am

Lest ye forget, the NCLB law was enacted because public schools were passing students from grade to grade who could not do the work and were graduating illiterates. Ten years into NCLB, schools are still passing students from grade to grade and graduating illiterates, AND CHEATING ON THE TESTS REQUIRED BY THE NCLB.

Maybe the problem isn’t with NCLB?


September 24th, 2011
10:20 am

I agree teachers should not have to teach the test to retain employment. The teachers should be allowed to teach what students need in the “Real World” and not to pass a test. In the workplace I see many people who can not read or write well or do simple math. How can “we” as a country move forward when many in the work force are functionally illiterate.
It is appalling most natural born US Citizens could not pass the US Citizenship exams given to immigrants seeking US Citizenship. Why is this? Because teachers have to teach the test…. And IMHO the liberal psrt of society do not want the masses to understand government.


September 24th, 2011
10:34 am

Defending NCLB by saying it had good points makes about as much sense as saying Mussolini had good points because he made the trains run on time.

Dismantle the Federal Dept. of Education, make the student PRIMARILY responsible for his/her education by restoring DISCIPLINE, and let the money follow the child so that schools that are run by inane administrators who handcuff teachers will suffer loss of enrollment.

Then when you’ve set teachers up to succeed, not fail, go after the bozos who give teachers a bad name.

Simple, but we the people don’t have the BACKBONE to do it. Plus, can’t take time to think about it-Simon what’s his name has a new show to replace American Idol. Must watch TV of course.

old timer

September 24th, 2011
11:00 am

Educational standards have dropped for decades. I would like to see pre and post ITBS test in reading an math used as one measure. I also believe school choice is a must. Competition will help improve education. And to the person who commented on rote memorization…my kids did some of that and they were good students, who finished college and have done well for themselves. I think we need to go back to some rote learning. I still remember learning multiplication tables, poems, etc. Also, spelling ought to go back to phonic rules and patterens to help childern learn to read.

old timer

September 24th, 2011
11:02 am

And Lee…Too true.


September 24th, 2011
11:23 am

My school missed AYP last year by about a dozen seniors not graduating. One was in my class and had a 51. He did little work and the work he did complete was subpar. Should I have passed him anyway to make sure we hit the graduation number? Anyone who thinks my school is “failing” because of that AYP statistic is insane. If holding students accountable makes a school look bad, we have bigger problems than “bad teachers.” Wait…. We do exactly that.


September 24th, 2011
11:44 am



September 24th, 2011
11:47 am


Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

September 24th, 2011
11:49 am

All hail the second-worst president in history for creating the federal department of education. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to send our money to DC so some bureaucrats can skim some off the top for themselves before sending it back to us with all sorts of strings attached.

Hillbilly D

September 24th, 2011
12:31 pm

While I’m a firm believer in public education, I think it should be controlled at the state and local level. The only role the Federal Government should play in education is to insure that everyone has equal access to it.

I agree with the several posters who said that the key is parental involvement but I also think that is something that is beyond government control. Somehow or other, we need to educate the parents to the importance of getting an education.

I also agree that we try to put all the pegs into the same holes. Education now is geared towards sending every high school graduate to college. That’s good for the business of education and the administrators benefit from that but do the students? Not everybody has talent and ability in the same area, nor does every pursuit in life require the same skills. We ought to think about that.


September 24th, 2011
12:34 pm

Our Tea Party Governor Nathan Deal (R) LOVES the Dept of Education. Deal (R) just hauled in about a billion “strings attached,” deficit inflating, federal Race to the Top dollars.

Of course during his campaign Deal (R) said he would not accept the money! Of course Deal (R) gobbled up what ever he could as soon as he could.

Ayn Rand was right

September 24th, 2011
12:40 pm

Putting the pressure on slow children to raise pass rates, and teachers having to focus on this minority in every classroom has left all children behind. Go back to classrooms divided by ability and let teachers pressure all children to learn more and grow in an environment that suits the student’s abilities.


September 24th, 2011
1:14 pm

Another w failure.

w is the worst ever president.

Told ya Andy.