In an interview with the Associated Press, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that children may see the following changes and challenges as they start the new school year:
- A more well-rounded curriculum with less focus on a single test
- Higher academic standards and more difficult classwork
- Continued cuts to extracurricular and other activities because of the tough economy
The changes are the results of several significant reforms that have taken place over the past three years.
- 48 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core standards, a set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading.
- 32 states and the District have been granted waivers from important parts of the Bush-era “No Child Left Behind” law, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- Billions in federal dollars have gone to improve low-performing schools, tie teacher evaluations to student growth, and encourage states to expand the number of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run.
Duncan also noted the importance of parental involvement, encouraging parents to visit schools and make an informed choice. He urged all parents to contribute to their child’s school, whether through donations and volunteering, helping to coach a team, or keeping kids on track with their assignments.