Achievement gaps narrowed under No Child Left Behind — until the Obama administration started handing out waivers, writes Brookings’ Mark Dynarski.
NCLB requires schools to analyze the achievement and progress of subgroups of low-income, black, Hispanic, special education and English Learner students.
. . . if any subgroup failed to meet its targets for advancing, a school was designated “in need of improvement,” which triggered a set of increasing draconian consequences depending on how long the school remained in that category, e.g., mandatory school restructuring.
Since 2011, 43 states and the District of Columbia have received waivers from NCLB’s provisions. Many have combined subgroup data into a “super subgroup.”
The gap for all subgroups declined steadily throughout the early 2000s, with the largest improvements seen between 2000 and 2002. This progress seemed to slow by 2010, with gaps remaining unchanged or even ticking up slightly for some subgroups since then.
“It is possible waivers may impair equity,” Dynarski concludes.