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What's next for 'No Child Left Behind'?

No Child Left Behind, the Bush-era education law, has been due for a rewrite since 2007.

No Child Left Behind turns 11-years-old tomorrow. The Bush-era law ties federal education funding to student achievement. Schools that don’t meet its targets risk losing federal funding.

The law wasn’t meant to get this old. It’s been due for a rewrite since 2007.

“You’d think Congress would be embarrassed at this point,” says Charles Barone with Democrats for Education Reform. “This is the longest it’s ever taken to reauthorize an education law in U.S. history.”

Barone was the lead negotiator for House Democrats when No Child Left Behind was written. It passed Congress with wide bipartisan support. Since then the law’s lost favor with both parties, but they haven’t been able to agree on how to fix it.

In the mean time, the Obama Administration has granted waivers to many states on the law’s strictest provisions. That means there’s less pressure for a rewrite, says Michael Petrilli with the Fordham Institute

“So for the foreseeable future it looks like we are going to have this law in place,” he says. “Any new policy at the federal level is probably at least two years off.”

Pretty much everyone agrees No Child Left Behind put a much-needed spotlight on raising academic achievement among poor and minority students. Critics don’t like its emphasis on standardized tests, its narrow focus on math and reading and what many call its unrealistic goals.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.
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