In response to growing complaints over the No Child Left Behind school testing law, federal education officials have announced changes that will make it easier for some schools and teachers to meet requirements.
The new rules will give rural teachers who are classified as "highly qualified" in one subject area--but teach in others as well--three more years to qualify in those other areas. In one notable case, Montana's "teacher of the year" failed to meet the old requirements. He has taught several different sciences for decades but was not classified as qualified in all of them.
The federal government has also relaxed the rules for testing special education students and those with limited English proficiency, and loosened other attendance-related testing requirements--the minimum 95 percent student participation rate for standardized tests can now be averaged over two years.
Supporters of NCLB say that easing the rules represents a retreat, but states across the country have revolted against the law, calling it counterproductive and too expensive ["One Correct Answer," May 2002]. Legislatures in states such as Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia have considered resolutions criticizing the law or calling for its repeal.