Numerous reforms have been underway in the education sector, and discussions on Capitol Hill have continued to push forward over the past few months, despite their relative lack of coverage compared to the larger budget battle.
The No Child Left Behind Act currently calls for every student to be at a proficient level of math and reading skill by 2014, a goal that now seems unreachable, especially since it is expected that four out of five schools will not make adequate yearly progress in 2011.
Efforts have been underway to continue to reform education while keeping standards realistic and effective.
One of the first programs to reflect this change is “Race to the Top,” a grant program in which the federal government pushes states to reform accountability standards and improve schools, with the federal government giving monetary grants to select states. However, funding for this has been cut for this year, which may weaken its effectiveness.
Other proposals have included changing federal funding based on student performance instead of student enrollment. This, in theory, would encourage states to work to improve performance, achieving the goals of No Child Left Behind.
Also in consideration is working with teachers’ unions to reform the pay structure. The proposal would, in some states, include paying by performance rather than a seniority and tenure-based system.
Although freshman elementary education major Kiersten Van Wyhe has not noticed a recent difference in her classes due to the evolving debate, her classes have discussed how issues are changing in the education sector, even over the past few years.
She does have a message for Congress: “I know that comprehensive education reform needs to be a priority. Furthermore, in this area there is no room for petty party debates. We all agree that our education system is failing at least in part, and we need to work together to do something about it.”