Millions of at-risk students could fall through the cracks as the Education Department gives states permission to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind, according to a study education advocates released yestetday.
The Education Department has been giving some states waivers from the education law's requirements, including those to collect and publish data about students and then use the results to pinpoint problem schools. "It appears to us that waivers could lead to fewer students of colour receiving the support they need," said Rufina Hernandez, executive director for the Campaign for High School Equity.
Her coalition of education reformers, civil rights activists and policy analysts studied the 34 states and the District of Columbia that had received waivers from No Child Left Behind before April. Another six states and a collection of individual districts in California have won waivers since then.
The results show students who are at the highest risk of dropping out - those from poor families, students whose native language is not English, those with learning disabilities and minority students - are often no longer tracked as carefully as they were before Education Secretary Arne Duncan began exempting states from some requirements if they promised to better prepare their students for college or careers.
The Education Department had no comment on the study, but Duncan has been vocal in calling for a rewrite of No Child Left Behind that would render his waivers moot.