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Senate Discusses NCLB Waivers: What’s Next For Federal Education Policy?

If you’re looking for background on the important Senate hearing on the NCLB waivers, and what might be next for education reform efforts at the federal level, start with Motoko Rich’s news analysis for the New York Times. It’s a solid primer on the backbone of the waivers, the controversy, and the criticism.

Then jump over to Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog. I can’t say enough about the thoughtful work of co-bloggers Alyson Klein and Michele McNeil, who consistently manage to make the complexities of federal policy readable and, perhaps most importantly, help readers understand why it matters. (Here’s Klein’s well-detailed overview of the Senate hearing.)

As Joy Resmovits noted over at the Huffington Post, critics of the waivers testifying at the Senate hearing included  someone who has been of President Obama’s staunchest allies on the reform front — Kati Haycock of the Education Trust. I wrote last week about the organization’s new report, detailing its perspective that the waivers are actually a step back for equity among historically under-served student populations.

Be sure to also check out McNeil’s Five Unanswered Questions on the NCLB Waiver Implementation. It’s probably too much to hope for a sequel to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s testimony. But I certainly hope someone at least takes a crack at answering No. 3. I’d also like to point out that No. 4 on the list — whether  new accountability systems can survive the backlash if student test scores suddenly take a nose-dive isn’t — isn’t limited to the NCLB waivers. As I mentioned in a prior blog post, it’s also a very real concern for the forthcoming assessments attached to the new Common Core State Standards.



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