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Education reform: Obama budget reboots No Child Left Behind

President Obama's federal budget seeks to recast fundamental parts of George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind education reform. But Congress could put up stiff resistance.

Joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan (left), President Barack Obama greets students at Graham Rd. Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia January 19.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

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The Obama administration envisions big changes for No Child Left Behind.

Included in Monday’s 2011 budget proposal were some significant – and controversial – shifts in federal education policy, even though a formal plan for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (better known as No Child Left Behind) has yet to be submitted.

Among the changes Obama wants is a scrapping of the yearly benchmarks that are the cornerstone of NCLB. This would also mean a nullification of the 2014 deadline for all students to be declared proficient.

The administration would like to replace the annual yearly progress (AYP) benchmarks with new standards based on college and career readiness. But those have yet to be developed.

The Obama administration also wants to shift how federal education dollars are disbursed. Currently, funding is driven by a formula. Obama would like to see that system include more competitive grants.

“It’s clear that they are about leveraging change,” says Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs at the Education Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to closing the achievement gap.

Race to the Top redux


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