Illinois has the opportunity to apply for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act and come up with its own way to narrow achievement gaps for students who have traditionally had a tougher time meeting or exceeding educational standards.

Good. It’s about time. From the time No Child Left Behind was passed, it was a time bomb destined to produce mass failure. It set arbitrary benchmarks for student achievement each year, ratcheting them up annually until 100 percent of students magically would have to meet state standards in reading and math.

In 2011, the percentage of students needing to meet state standards without their school being labeled as a “failure” was 85 percent. Guess what? According to Riverside-Brookfield High School’s principal who talked about the school’s most recent results last week, almost every school in the state is a failure, at least if your method of evaluation is NCLB.

As the benchmarks for NCLB went up, so did the pressure to teach to the standardized test. The test became everything, because it was a pass-fail method. Good schools like RBHS and Lyons Township High School were destined to become unmitigated failures if they didn’t hit NCLB’s ludicrous, arbitrary benchmarks.

Of course, that was the point – to be able to say, “Public education is a rampant failure” and have an excuse to dismantle it.

Instead of the 100-percent requirement, educators have determined, rightly, that the best way to judge results is by looking at the same groups of students over time, to measure improvement not just from one class to the next, but of one class through four years of high school.

The goal should be to assure student performance improves over time and that the gap in achievement between different groups of students shrinks by lifting up those who have been so dismally left behind in the past.

There is a place for standardized testing in schools. Standardized testing, however, isn’t school.

Illinois ought to work hard to find its own alternative to NCLB and free it from the hopeless requirements of the federal legislation.

Easy call

This one should be easy. The Brookfield Village Board is considering new parking rules in the village’s Hollywood section. Among the suggestions are:

Allow parking on one side only on all north-south streets.

No parking on either side of any “island.”

Anyone who has driven in Hollywood knows that these are both fine ideas. Anyone who has driven a fire truck in Hollywood knows these are needed ideas. Village trustees do not need to do a lot of hemming and hawing on this one.

Driveways are plentiful in Hollywood, enough to allow those without a place to park on one side of the street. The only thing that needs to be worked out is the signage angle. It’s true, you don’t want a legion of signs cluttering the landscape, especially around the islands. But this detail can be worked out.

In the meantime, make it easier for motorists and emergency vehicles to traverse Hollywood’s streets. One side north-south parking, no island parking. See how simple that was?