• The plan would give more rewards—money and flexibility—to high-poverty schools that are seeing big gains in student achievement and use them as a model for other schools in low-income neighborhoods that struggle with performance.

• It would punish the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools using aggressive measures, such as having the state take over federal funding for poor students, replacing the principal and half the teaching staff, or closing the school altogether. This school turnaround program already has generated controversy.

• Duncan has said the name No Child Left Behind will be dropped, because it is associated with a harsh law that punishes schools for not reaching benchmarks even if they’ve made big gains. He said the administration will work with Congress to come up with a new name.

Amy Wilkins, a vice president with The Education Trust in Washington, D.C., called the blueprint a “culture shift.”

“One of the things America has not been clear about is what K-12 is supposed to do,” Wilkins said. “In this, we’re saying K-12 is supposed to prepare kids for college and meaningful careers.”

The nation’s first federal education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was passed in 1965 as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty. The law has been reauthorized several times since, most recently in 2001 under President George W. Bush.

It was criticized by educators for focusing too much on testing and not enough on learning. Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said he is glad to see NCLB go away.

“We’re delighted over that,” he said. “We have not been a fan of No Child Left Behind.”

Links:

U.S. Department of Education

“A Blueprint for Reform: Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act”

The Education Trust

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Meeting the Needs of Students with Autism resource center. It’s estimated that one out of every 100 children in the United States has some form of autism, and that number is escalating at a frightening pace. The federal government says autism is increasing at a rate of 10 percent to 17 percent each year and could affect some 4 million Americans in the next decade, placing an enormous strain on school systems charged with educating students diagnosed with the disorder. Go to:

Meeting the Needs of Students with Autism