This was a very busy year for education news: twenty major news stories follow, and I am restricting myself to the United States.
- The Every Student Succeeds Act passed at the end of the year, ending many of No Child Left Behind’s straightjacket rules and putting limits on the federal Department of Education. This is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that Lamar Alexander could have signed in 2000 or 2001 in the alternate universe where he became president in 1997, a logical bill for a Republican president and a Democratic Congress. That leads to the next question for some doctoral student: why was the No Child Left Behind Act signed instead, an outlier from the historical trajectory of federal education law since the 1950s?
- The opt-out movement had a measurable effect on the numbers of children taking state standardized tests in states from New York to Washington, with many New York school districts having more than half of students refusing to take state tests. While plenty of parents and teachers unions have been critical of high-stakes testing before 2015, and there were a few hints of action before this year (most notably in a 2013 boycott of a district-mandated test in one Seattle high school), the scale of the test boycotts this year was unprecedented. While states wonder what to do on the policy front, the deeper question is whether the opt-out successes in 2015 give license to additional test boycotts, or other parent/student revolts against schooling norms.
- Continue reading “Top education news stories of 2015, to an historian”