Kentucky educators react to No Child Left Behind waiver

NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - Tri-state teachers in Kentucky and Indiana welcomed the end of No Child Left Behind Thursday.

Newport Middle School social studies teacher Marcia Stegeman says she was happy to hear the news.

"I was not disappointed to see No Child Left Behind move behind us," Stegeman said.

"The provisions of the first bill were very restrictive for us and as we've gone through the years we've seen even more how restrictive that is," Newport Independent School District Interim Superintendent Pamela Rye said.

"It seemed like when No Child Left Behind came in we lost a lot of our ability to chose what we thought was best for the kids to learn at that time," Stegeman argued.

She says she did not feel like NCLB shared the responsibility for student achievement evenly across all involved parties.

"Everything came down on 'What are you doing as a teacher? What are you doing as a school? What are you doing as an administrator?" Stegeman said. "Instead of: What is the child doing? What is being done at home?"

Like many educators, Stegeman felt the 2014 requirement that all students be proficient in reading in math was unrealistic.

"2014 looked far away at one time," Rye said. "But what we found was when we really got into focusing on each student's needs it was going to take us more time to get there."

Even though Kentucky has been exempt from certain federal requirements, the state now had to show they have their own plans to improve achievement.

"In Kentucky's plan we are given more flexibility," Rye explained. "Instead of students being just proficient in some content area, now they're college and career ready."

"We're leaning much more towards getting the kids ready for the real world rather than just a test they have to take next spring," echoed Stegeman.

While educators appreciate the focus No Child Left Behind brought, they are ready to usher a new era in education.

"I think it has made us focus. Many times we have a lot to teach but we have focused, especially her at Newport, on reading and math skills," Rye said.

"Let's keep what we learned from No Child Left Behind, keep the best of it, keep the good parts of it and then move on and see what we can do next," Stegeman said.

Educators say the law will also allow them to have more flexibility in how they spend federal education dollars.

"It's the flexibility to put them where they need to go instead of the requirements that were placed upon schools that failed to meet the NCLB requirements," Newport Independent Schools Curriculum Director Diane Hatfield explained.

Hatfield says under Kentucky's plan there will also be more student accountability, especially at the high school level.

Rye says the Kentucky plan puts even more emphasis on principal and teacher effectiveness. She says their school district will serve as one of the pilot districts to implement the new effort.

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