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Fowler pleased with No Child Left Behind ruling

In a U.S. Department of Education ruling, Alabama can freeze requirements for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) at 2011 levels. The ruling applies for two years.

Dr. Dee Fowler, superintendent of Madison City Schools

Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said NCLB applies to every group, subgroup — all students — in all school districts in the United States. However, the reality is “every school in the country can’t be there” in meeting requirements.

In 2002, then president George W. Bush approved NCLB legislation, mandating that all U.S. students must read and have math skills at grade level by 2014.

“Alabama and other states have asked the federal government, ‘Can we look at this and study it closer to find good measurable objectives for our state?'” Fowler said.

For compliance with No Child Left Behind, each state develops “annual measurable objectives” that indicate the level of adequate yearly progress (AYP) to reach the 2014 ‘deadline.’

“The Alabama Department of Education has asked for a two-year waiver, which gives a two-year window to transition to a new balance and accountability system without the threat of sanctions,” Fowler said.

For the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, Alabama districts can base measurable standards on requirements from 2010-2011. “With the two-year freeze, we go back to objectives for 2011,” Fowler said.

During this time, state educators will rewrite Alabama’s plan to apply more specifically to the state’s school districts. Fowler believes teachers can breathe easier. “By freezing objectives, we’re almost at a point to ‘take a knee’ and get things together to move from this point.”

“We all want to be accountable, but we need reasonable standards,” Fowler said. “Even though it was a wonderful goal (with NCLB), not every child is going to be on grade level by 2014.”

Fowler hopes the state can determine ways to gauge progress that student groups are making — whether college- or workforce-bound. “How much are these kids growing annually? Are teachers stretching themselves? Is there continual growth?” he said.

Fowler also is pleased that the Alabama Graduation Exam will be replaced by end-of-course exams.

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