Since 2001, the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act have shaped Ohio schools.
The law requires states to test students in certain grades in reading and math, publicly report those test results for all students and for students in certain groups, and set a goal of having all tested students on grade level in reading and math by 2014. It also has a host of other provisions, including requiring students to be taught by “highly qualified teachers” and schools to inform parents if their child’s school is low-performing and offer them extra tutoring or the chance to transfer to another district school.
The law was passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress during the administration of President George W. Bush. Bush actually signed the law during a ceremony at an Ohio high school – Hamilton High School in southwestern Ohio — on Jan. 8, 2002.
In fall 2011, the Obama administration announced a chance for Ohio and other states to be set free from some of those requirements in return for promising to put certain policies in place. Ohio plans to put in its request for freedom by Feb. 21, 2012, the Ohio Department of Education says.
An approved No Child Left Behind waiver would not mean that Ohio schools can stop standardized testing. But it could mean that Ohio could make changes in how it evaluates and improves schools. For example, rather than setting an official goal of having all students pass reading and math tests by 2014, Ohio could set a new series of goals for the percentage of students who graduate high school and are ready for college or the workplace. It could also give Ohio schools more flexibility in how they spend Title I funds, federal money that goes to schools with high propportions of low-income children.