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Star Tribune: Finally, Congress is set to adopt replacement for No Child Left Behind

By year’s end, the controversial No Child Left Behind federal education law likely will be history. Last week, the U.S. House approved an NCLB replacement, and the Senate is expected to pass the companion bill this week. President Obama is expected to sign the measure soon after.

Two Minnesota lawmakers, Republican Rep. John Kline and Democratic Sen. Al Franken, deserve credit for working out details of the long-awaited rewrite in conference committee. As committee chairman, Kline led the negotiations on the finishing touches, building on the bipartisan work of other lawmakers. The compromise attempts to strike a balance between the Democrats’ emphasis on the academic issues of poor and minority students, and the Republican focus on less federal and more state control of public schools.

It rightly ends some of the most onerous features of NCLB, such as labeling and sanctioning schools based on narrow test criteria and setting unrealistic academic goals. But it also leaves open the possibility that without those requirements, some states might neglect efforts to improve learning for struggling students. One positive feature of NCLB has been the attention it focused on America’s significant learning gaps between white students and students of color.

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