WASHINGTON â€” In a proposed change to the No Child Left Behind law, the Obama administration would require states to adopt new academic standards to qualify for federal money from a $14 billion program that concentrates on impoverished students, the White House said Sunday.
The proposal, part of the administrationâ€™s recommendations for a Congressional overhaul of the law, would require states to adopt â€œcollege- and career-ready standardsâ€ in reading and mathematics.
The current law, signed by President George W. Bush in 2002, requires states to adopt â€œchallenging academic standardsâ€ in reading and math to receive federal money for poor students under the program known as Title I, but leaves it up to states to decide what qualifies as â€œchallenging.â€
The result was that states set their standards at widely varied levels, some as rigorous as those used in high-performing countries like Japan, but others at far lower levels that lay out at best, mediocre expectations for their students.
â€œBecause economic progress and educational achievement go hand in hand, educating every American student to graduate prepared for college and success in a new work force is a national imperative,â€ the White House said in a statement. â€œMeeting this challenge requires that state standards reflect a level of teaching and learning needed for students to graduate ready for success in college and careers.â€
Since last year, 48 states have been collaborating to write common standards in math and reading, coordinated by the governorsâ€™ group and with the encouragement of the White House. Texas and Alaska decided not to participate in that state-led effort.
The common-standards effort has produced a draft, and earlier this month Kentucky became the first state to approve the substitution of the new standards for the stateâ€™s own standards in the two subjects.
How successful or quickly the governors, legislatures, state boards of education and other authorities in other states will be in agreeing on adoption of the new standards is not clear.
â€œIn better aligning the law to support college- and career-ready standards,â€ the White House statement said, its proposed rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law would â€œrequire all states to adopt and certify that they have college- and career-ready standards which may include common standards developed by a state-led consortium, as a condition of qualifying for Title I funding.â€
The four Democratic and Republican leaders of the House education committee announced last week that they were working together on the latest overhaul of the law.
In its 2011 budget request earlier this month, the White House said it hoped to replace the lawâ€™s much-criticized school rating system, known as adequate yearly progress, with a new accountability system.