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Standardized Testing And Education: How Do We Overcome The Achievement Gap For An Effective Education System?

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Idaho last week became the 34th state to receive a waiver from No Child Left Behind, the sweeping Bush-era education law that sought to make all students in America reading- and math-proficient by 2014.

In working towards that goal, lawmakers and federal education officials designed accountability systems that has lately been derided for what critics call a gross overemphasis on testing, contributing to cheating scandals orchestrated by teachers in districts across the country. Even as the Obama administration is granting waivers for NCLB flexibility, states are still required to devise their own accountability systems, and standardized testing isn't going to disappear any time soon.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has touted to a pair of "next-generation assessments" in development that aims to curb the blunt measures of student achievement, but education insiders expressed skepticism in a summer survey.

So HuffPost Live took to ask those on the ground -- As we face a still-wide achievement gap, how do we prevent situations like parent protests against testing and create an education system and environment that allows all students, regardless of race, gender or economic status, to thrive?

"The really key issue is what kind of support systems do you put around the children so that they really do feel that they belong, that they feel reinforced in terms of their ability to take on those challenges," Oliver Scholars Program Executive Director David Addams said on HuffPost Live.

Role models are also crucial to fostering a positive learning environment, says Obi Okobi, principal of the City Neighbors Hamilton School in Maryland.

"We're making sure that we are putting into our curriculum occasions where students are actually seeing themselves not only in the people around them but in the work that's around them," Okobi said.

Watch what the other guests had to say in the segment above. And join the conversation -- let us know what you think can be done to improve our education and accountability systems in the comments below.

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