DC Shuttle: Ten States Including Mass. Get No Child Left Behind Waivers; Grad Record Exams Soar, Especially in India, China

On Thursday, the White House granted the waiver requests of 10 states, including Massachusetts, to opt out from the requirements of the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law. As passed, NCLB requires school districts to demonstrate through testing proficiency in reading and math skills for all grades by 2014. Many have called the NCLB law too unrealistic to implement, and a number of states have indicated they can implement better approaches to improving their schools and educating their students. To obtain a waiver from the 2014 timetable, each state must show that its alternative education plan will prepare students to succeed at college and a career, establish new goals meant to improve student achievement, put criteria in place to “raise the bar” for schools that do not perform well. In addition to these 10 states, nearly 30 more states have indicated they will seek similar waivers.

During Tuesday’s second annual White House Science Fair, President Obama announced several programed aimed at improving instruction and education in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. As part of his education reform proposals, President Obama will include in his FY2013 budget request $80 million to support new grants for college teacher training programs with the goal of training 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next 10 years. This funding would be paired with $22 million from more than 115 private investors and organizations, spearheaded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Opportunity Equation. In addition, President Obama announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) will direct over $100 million to programs to improve STEM education at the undergraduate level, including the Widening Implementation and Demonstration of Evidence-based Reforms (WIDER) and the Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES) programs.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) reported Wednesday that it administered more than 800,000 Graduate Record Examination (GRE) tests in 2011—a 13% increase over 2010. American GRE tests increased by about 10%, but the increase overseas was even greater—an average of 17% across all countries. China saw a 28% increase, and GRE tests in India increased by 43%. ETS officials noted that a greater number of higher education institutions are now accepting GRE scores, and a new version of the exam was released in August.

As a member of New England Council, we publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington. This edition is drawn from the Council’s Weekly Washington Report Higher Education Update, of Feb. 13, 2012.

Founded in 1925, the New England Council is a nonpartisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the New England region. The Council’s mission is to identify and support federal public policies and articulate the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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