Barack Obama and John McCain haven’t said what they’d do about No Child Left Behind. Fordham’s Mike Petrilli has specific ideas.
Right now, NCLB micromanages the formula and timelines by which schools are labeled and sanctioned, yet it allows states total discretion over the academic standards and tests used to judge schools (and kids) in the first place. These should be flipped. Provide incentives for states to sign up for rigorous nationwide (not federal) standards and tests. Make the results of this testing publicly available, sliced every which way by school and group. But then allow states and districts (or private entities, such as GreatSchools.net) to devise their own school labels and ratings – and let them decide what to do with schools that need help.
Richard Kahlenberg of Century Foundation and co-authors offer other ideas for strengthening NCLB.
Update: Eduwonk jumps in to the debate, arguing that NCLB has done a good job of identifying schools that need to improve.