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Obama's No Child Left Behind revise: a little more flexibility

The Obama administration is proposing fundamental changes to the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education reform policy, such as dropping the strict yearly progress goals.

President Obama talks to students at Viers Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., in this Oct. 19, 2009, file photo. Viers Mill was selected as a No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon school.

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The education blueprint that President Obama sent to Congress Monday retains the structure and spirit of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Law – annual testing and data-driven accountability – but adds resources and flexibility to meet new goals.

The thrust of the changes is to lessen the emphasis on yearly improvement – and the federal prescriptions for failure – and instead to focus on broader measures of progress.

Out is the widely disliked measure of “adequate yearly progress” in reading, math, and dropout rates, which were seen as too harsh and arbitrary. Also out is the demand that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

The Obama administration's new goal: that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career by 2020.

“This is an idea whose time has come,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on a teleconference with reporters on Monday. “Behind that, we want to create the next generation of great assessments.”

'Failing' schools

How so-called failing schools will be treated under the Obama plan illustrates the changes the administration wished to make to No Child Left Behind.

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