Obama vs. Romney 101: 5 differences on education

President Obama says his policy initiatives are helping teachers, schools, and students. Mitt Romney advocates more school choice and private-sector involvement. Here is a look at how the two differ on eduction issues.

2. No Child Left Behind/accountability

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    Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reads through class assignments with Jeremiah E. Burke High School sophmores in this 2005 file photo.
    Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor/File
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Obama has proposed revisions to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law to focus more resources on turning around the lowest-performing schools and emphasize standards that prepare students for college and careers. 

With the law long overdue for a rewrite but stuck in partisan gridlock, Obama has granted NCLB waivers to 33 states, allowing them to create their own accountability plans – as long as they meet criteria such as focusing on students’ preparation for college and narrowing achievement gaps.

“Romney wants to dial it back further and really gut the provisions of NCLB … make it more of an information mandate rather than a school intervention/turnaround kind of mandate,” says Patrick McGuinn, a political science and education professor at Drew University in Madison, N.J.

Romney proposes to replace school-intervention aspects of NCLB – such as offering tutoring or replacing the staff at chronically failing schools – with a requirement that states provide more transparency about school results.

He wants school and district report cards that show scores both from state tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress – a sample of student achievement that is thought to set higher standards than many states currently do. He would also require detailed public information on school and district spending.

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