E-Mail news for the K-12 education profession | February 22, 2005
No Child Left Behind: Three Years On
 
On Jan. 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the controversial No Child Left Behind Act into law, launching what would become an unprecedented foray by the federal government into education policy. The law promised to eradicate the achievement gap between poor and minority students and their wealthier counterparts, improve teacher quality, empower parents and promote school safety. Although it has raised expectations for U.S. schools, the law's strict and rigorous provisions have rubbed some educators and policy-makers the wrong way.

Despite the controversy swirling around NCLB, Bush adamantly defends it, saying it is what's best for U.S. schools. Now, with a new education secretary in place, Bush is pushing to expand NCLB into high schools. This special report is designed to help educators better understand how NCLB is affecting schools, reshaping the education profession and altering state and federal education policies. Part I explores the implementation of NCLB on a local level, while Part II, scheduled to be published on Feb. 24, focuses on state and federal policy.
 
At A Glance 
Study: Achievement rising, but too slowly
According to a study of trends in 24 states by the nonpartisan Education Trust, progress is being made in elementary-level reading and math, but in many places the pace of improvement is too slow to reach NCLB's goal of universal proficiency by 2014. Researchers said the findings don't validate supporters' claims that NCLB is "the silver bullet of education" or critics' charges that the law has had no effect on student achievement.   The Philadelphia Inquirer (10/15)
NCLB primer
For detailed background information about the No Child Left Behind Act, check out ASCD's Web page devoted to NCLB.
Useful NCLB Resources
The following Web sites provide a host of useful information about the No Child Left Behind Act:
  • U.S. Department of Eduction
  • Learning First Alliance
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Education Commission of the States
  • The Rural School Community Trust
  • National Governors Association
  • National Conference of State Legislatures

  •  
       
      Pretty Reports are Meaningless...Without a Plan.
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    Testing and Accountability 
    Thanks to NCLB, high school is about to get much tougher
    President Bush's second-term agenda is likely to bring expanded testing and accountability to high schools, further solidifying NCLB's key role as an instrument of educational reform. Because the 2005 Congressional budget contained only a 1.6% increase for the Education Department, critics fear new testing mandates will lack adequate funding.   The Dallas Morning News (free registration) (1/3)
    Study predicts schools won't meet NCLB reading target
    A new RAND Corporation study released in December expressed deep doubts that students could reach NCLB's goal of proficiency in reading by 2014. The researchers noted that many children were not moving beyond basic decoding skills to fluency and comprehension.   Education Week (12/16)
    Diverse schools struggle with NCLB's goals
    Schools with large numbers of minority students generally have a more difficult time reaching NCLB's targets for adequate yearly progress than homogenous schools because they have more subgroups to measure, some educators say. Monty Neill, executive director of FairTest, an advocacy group, says this amounts to what some people in the industry have begun calling the "diversity penalty." Public School Notebook (Winter 2004)
    NCLB offers up unique challenge for Montana's rural schools
    In Montana, where most schools are both small and far removed from urban areas, NCLB is presenting a unique set of hurdles for educators. One of the biggest problems, educators in the state say, is measuring adequate yearly progress in schools that have just a handful of students. Unlike large schools, which have the luxury of calculating their progress based on a large pool of results, small schools can miss NCLB targets because one or two students performed poorly on tests.   Billings Gazette (Mont.) (2/13)
     Rural districts look for NCLB loopholes: School administrators and policy experts say NCLB's testing and teacher quality requirements have become particularly difficult for some rural districts to meet. As a result, a handful of districts have begun looking for loopholes in the law. Some of the more innovative approaches include combining several small districts into one larger district passing laws that make it easier for schools to reject money tied to NCLB.   The Arizona Republic (Phoenix)/Associated Press (2/7)
    NCLB standards worry Michigan special educators
    Parents and educators in Michigan are frustrated that the performance of students with special needs on state assessments can result in their school's earning a failing label. Some administrators are quietly starting to suggest that special-education centers at schools may have to be shut down to avoid exposing the district to potential sanctions.   Detroit Free Press (2/4)
    High-Stakes Testing and the Motivation of Low-Achieving Students
    Some students are motivated by high-stakes tests alone, but some students appear to need the additional components of teacher support and a collective sense of learning, according to a study by Melissa Roderick and Mimi Engel of the University of Chicago. ASCD ResearchBrief (9/16)
    Successful students make up most of student transfers
    Across the nation, districts are discovering that the typical students transferring from low-performing schools to better ones are not the struggling students that the NCLB mandate originally intended to help. Educators worry that the flight of high-performing students will lower test scores and affect resources at the schools the students left.   The Washington Post (11/10)
    NCLB a boon for testing companies
    The NCLB Act has stoked demand for classroom-level formative and interim assessments, as well as for professional development products. CTB/McGraw-Hill, Harcourt Assessment and Pearson Educational Measurement have captured 75% of the testing market, but many newcomers are vying for a piece of the action as states prepare to spend $2.29 billion on NCLB-required assessments by 2006.   Education Week (12/1)
    Curriculum and Instruction 
    Educators fear social studies being neglected
    Social studies experts blame NCLB's emphasis on math and reading proficiency for fueling the decline of social studies, particularly in elementary and middle schools. They fear that as a result of cuts to instructional time, students are becoming increasingly ignorant about the history and geography of their world.   The Kansas City Star (Mo.) (1/21)
    North Carolina schools feel impact of tutoring requirement
    Some schools in North Carolina are offering parents the option of free outside tutoring under NCLB mandates. Schools must reserve 20% of their Title 1 funds, which would normally be used for hiring teachers at the start of the year, until parents have decided whether or not they want to take advantage of the academic help.   The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) (10/6)
    As science testing looms, some challenge hands-on learning
    In 2007, NCLB will force districts to start testing students in science, a requirement that has proactive educators exploring which is the better approach to science instruction, hands-on "discovery" learning or direct instruction. The National Science Teachers Association advocates a blend of both.   Education Week (11/10)
    The Effect of State Testing on Instruction in High-Poverty Elementary Schools
    Teachers in high-poverty schools spend more time preparing students for state test programs such as those required by NCLB than teachers in low-poverty schools, according to a study by three experts. Teachers in schools with high poverty rates also tend to feel more pressure to raise test scores, the study says. ASCD ResearchBrief (9/28)
    NCLB puts pressure on teachers
    Some educators and analysts fear that NCLB's aggressive academic performance goals are encouraging teachers to cheat. The problem isn't with the teachers, experts say, it is with an education system that ties test scores to performance ratings and bonuses.   The Christian Science Monitor (1/11)
    Teacher Quality 
    Report: States lack urgency in pursuing "highly qualified" goals
    According to a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, most states are doing a poor job of ensuring their teachers will meet NCLB's standard for "highly qualified" by the end of the 2005-06 school year. The report cited Colorado as the only state to require its teachers to either pass a subject matter test or take coursework closely approximating a college major.   Education Week (12/21)
     Does Highly Qualified Mean High-Quality? Does Highly Qualified Mean High-Quality? While national attention has been riveted on the accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), few in the education community have focused on what matters most to ensure that all students make adequate yearly progress -- a high-quality teacher. ASCD Infobrief
     Teacher Quality Measures and Student Achievement in Mathematics: Students who have teachers with a major in mathematics or mathematics
    Pennsylvania eases certification rules for some teachers
    The Pennsylvania Board of Education voted last month to allow certain secondary-school teachers, primarily those teaching students in special education, ESL and alternative schools, to become designated as "highly qualified" without having to be certified in the subjects they teach. While special-education advocates expressed concern the new rules are creating a double standard, others said the change would help districts hire and retain their teaching staff.   The Philadelphia Inquirer (1/21)
    NCLB vexes special-ed teachers
    Many special-education teachers are struggling with an NCLB provision requiring teachers to be "highly qualified" in all of the subjects they teach. The problem is that although most special-education teachers are certified in special education, they often lack specific training in areas such as English, social studies or math. Despite efforts to attain qualifications in areas they fall short, some teachers still are finding that they don't meet NCLB's requirements.   Education Week (2/16)
     Georgia district shuffles senior teachers to fill special-ed vacancies: Clayton County, Ga., schools has eliminated a shortage of "highly qualified" special-education teachers by assigning 19 "lead" and "consultative" teachers to fill spots occupied by substitutes.   Journal and Constitution (Atlanta) (free registration) (2/9)
    Teacher Professional Development in High-Stakes Accountability Systems (Teacher Quality)
    Although high-stakes accountability systems help focus professional development efforts on the curricular needs of students, little evidence exists to support the claim that such systems help teachers change their practice to enhance student learning, according to a study from the Southeast Center for Teaching Quality. ASCD ResearchBrief (6/22)
    ASCD Resources 
    Books
  • Creating an Inclusive School
  • What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action
  • Accountability for Learning: How Teachers and School Leaders Can Take Charge, Douglas Reeves
  • Transforming Schools: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement, Allison Zmuda, Robert Kuklis, and Everett Kline
  • Handbook for Qualities of Effective Teachers, James H. Stronge, Pamela D. Tucker and Jennifer L. Hindman
  • Promises Kept: Sustaining School and District Leadership in a Turbulent Era, Steven Jay Gross


  • SmartQuote 
    Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
    --Ralph Waldo Emerson  
      




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