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RI Education Leaders Respond To 'No Child Left Behind' Overhaul

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Rhode Islanders are reacting to the passage of new federal legislation for public schools. The "Every Student Succeeds Act" is expected to get a...

Rhode Islanders are reacting to the passage of new federal legislation for public schools. The "Every Student Succeeds Act" is expected to get a signature Thursday from President Barack Obama. Rhode Island Association of School Committees Executive Director Tim Duffy said a new law will help state and local officials move forward with their efforts to improve public schools.

“It’s critically important,” said Duffy. “You don’t want to start down a direction and all of a sudden find the federal government is saying oh no, you can’t do that, or that’s the wrong direction or initiative.”

Duffy believes the new legislation will ease the emphasis on standardized testing, although the testing will not go away completely. He also said the bill provides more flexibility for local education officials to make choices about testing and classroom standards.

But Duffy has concerns about one part of the law, which allows for the creation of more alternatives programs to train and certify new teachers.

“An ambitious entrepreneur could put together their own teacher prep program outside of Rhode Island College,” said Duffy. “And how that works, this is a new wrinkle altogether, so people will have to see how that plays out.”

Duffy said he would have concerns about the quality of new teacher preparation programs. Overall, though, he sees the new federal law as a rare example of politicians reaching across the aisle to pass important legislation.

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Federal lawmakers have approved an initial overhaul to the national education policy known as 'No Child Left Behind'
Federal lawmakers have approved an initial overhaul to the national education policy known as 'No Child Left Behind'