Statement on No Child Left Behind flexibility

Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen released the following statement today in response to President Obama’s announcement of new flexibility for states from No Child Left Behind accountability requirements:

Here in Maine we are actively engaged in efforts to move our education system forward through rigorous standards developed by the states, useful and accurate assessments of student learning, increased expectations of and support for teachers and principals, and more realistic and constructive accountability systems for schools and districts.

Today’s announcement will provide important support to our efforts in Maine and in the other states. It stresses the leadership role of states in developing the next generation of accountability measures. It stresses the continued importance of assessments and accountability, while calling for us to be smarter and more flexible about it – something we’ve been asking for years.

While the No Child Left Behind Act has serious deficiencies in its one-size-fits-all approach, it has made a valuable contribution: We have learned to focus on all students and on working to narrow the unacceptable gap in student achievement based on race, poverty, and other factors. It would be wrong to abandon that work, and this announcement supports the important notion that we must work to make sure all students reach their potential, not just some.

Let’s be clear – there is no “free pass” in today’s announcement. Maine will continue to be held accountable as will our schools for improving student achievement and ensuring that ALL students are given access to effective teaching, helpful assessments, and the best tools and practices available to prepare them for college and careers.

We will move quickly internally and with our educational partners to review the details released today and start the work of developing a new accountability system for Maine that builds on our past work: strong standards, a data system that allows us to look at student growth rather than just raw scores, and recent collaborative work on measuring and supporting teacher and administrator effectiveness.

Read the Obama administration’s announcement.