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No Child Left Behind may be out
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While two Warren County schools, West Elementary and Warren County High School, are target schools under current No Child Left Behind standards, a major shift in the federal government’s position on the program could signal the death knell for it.No Child Left Behind could end as early as this spring, supplanted by President Barack Obama’s own initiative — Race to the Top — thus giving Warren County, and the entire state, a break on meeting the more stringent college and career-based standards of NCLB. The standards have resulted in almost half of the 1,664 Tennessee schools tested last year falling below the TCAP scores needed to be in good standing.Only 841, or 50.5 percent, of Tennessee schools are listed as meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards in recent statistics released by the state.Those results were expected.At the end of July, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam submitted a waiver letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking for relief on some of the provisions of No Child Left Behind, noting the national standards could result in the majority of the state’s schools being under some sort of sanction.However, Tennessee isn’t the only state crying foul under the much-maligned NCLB benchmarks.Most states are expected to follow suit with their own waivers as a result of Obama’s revelation Friday he’s allowing states to opt out, which has generated a new round of heated debates about where the country’s educational system is headed, as well as the fate of NCLB.The legislation, which was enacted in 2001 soon after George W. Bush took office, was designed to improve American education, but so far has left schools and educators chaffing at being labeled “failures” as a result of low scores on the required tests.While the education community was initially supportive of Bush’s intent with NCLB, from the beginning there have been serious questions about some of the more controversial expectations, such as requiring 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014, which is unrealistic.In the midst of the controversy, Obama came up with his own initiative, Race to the Top, which, unlike NCLB, is a funded mandate, with Tennessee being one of the first beneficiaries, to the tune of $500 million.As a result, like many school systems around the state, Warren County is currently in a unique situation, essentially operating under educational improvement standards set out by two administrations, Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race to the Top.Assistant director of schools Bobby Cox presented a report Thursday night to the School Board which outlined where the Warren County School System stands under this dual system.“We’re operating under two federal mandates,” Cox said. “No Child Left Behind, which the commissioner of education has told us will end in the spring after 10 years of being under the legislation, and moving into Race to the Top.