New York Times endorses fix to No Child Left Behind

Federal education policy might get a major reform for the first time since 2002, and the New York Times editorial page wants to help reform get across the finish line.

Over the course of the year, the Every Student Succeeds Act has made its way through the long legislative process. The final version has now passed the House of Representatives and is expected to be voted on in the Senate on Tuesday. President Obama has not confirmed that he will sign the bill if it passes, but is generally expected to.

"The compromise version that passed the House last week and that deserves to pass the Senate as well preserves important parts of the original law while eliminating some significant flaws," the editorial board wrote Monday. "The bill isn't perfect. But it is a considerable improvement over the original law and would continue pushing schools toward better performance."

The Times supports the bill mainly because it would reform how standardized testing is conducted. "The part of [No Child Left Behind] that labeled schools in need of improvement and subjected them to sanctions was flawed. … School officials who were afraid of the failing label deployed constant waves of so-called diagnostic exams that were actually practice rounds for the real thing. These were often junk tests that were useless for measuring the writing and reasoning skills," the editorial board writes. As a result, the average student now takes about eight standardized tests a year, though only two are federally required. Over the course of prekindergarten to 12th grade, a typical student takes 112 standardized tests.

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