At 4, NCLB Gets Praise And Fresh Call To Amend It

A group consisting of school organizations, civil rights groups, and child advocacy groups presented a list of 14 recommendations to congressional staff members at the US Capitol last week. This came just one day after President Bush defended the No Child Left Behind Act on its fourth anniversary.

Reggie Felton, the director of federal relations at the National School Boards Association, emphasized the need for these "critical changes" due to the consequences of the law. He addressed over 30 congressional staff members on January 10. The No Child Left Behind law, which is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was signed by President Bush on January 8, 2002, and is set to be reauthorized in 2007.

Mr. Felton also encouraged the use of local school districts and communities to assess the effectiveness of proposed changes. The day before, President Bush visited North Glen Elementary School in Glen Burnie, Maryland, to highlight success stories resulting from the law. The No Child Left Behind law requires students to be tested in grades 3-8 and once in high school to meet annual educational goals. Failure to do so can result in sanctions for schools and districts.

During his speech at North Glen Elementary on January 9, President Bush expressed his belief that the No Child Left Behind Act is effective and emphasized his desire to work with Congress to ensure its continued positive impact on children across the country. However, the coalition seeking changes to the law does not advocate for its complete elimination.

Monty Neill, one of the coalition leaders and the executive director of FairTest, stated that the aim is not to reject the No Child Left Behind Act entirely. Instead, the coalition is critical of the law’s reliance on standardized tests as the primary measure of progress. The joint effort, known as the Forum on Educational Accountability, includes 67 groups, including the National Education Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The coalition wishes to reverse trends brought about during the No Child Left Behind era that focus on narrowing the curriculum and pushing students out of schools to improve test scores. President Bush, however, emphasized that states have the authority to design and administer their own tests to ensure localized decision-making. He believes that a "one size fits all" approach should not be applied to public schools.

Monty Neill also highlighted the unrealistic goal of the No Child Left Behind Act to have all students proficient in key subjects by the 2013-14 school year. He stated that achieving 100% proficiency by that timeline is unlikely. The forum’s recommendations aim to reduce reliance on state tests, offer more flexibility in testing frequency and scheduling, and increase federal funding to meet the law’s requirements.

While these recommendations are a starting point, Monty Neill acknowledges that more details need to be worked out. The 14 recommendations have been in circulation since at least October 2004 and were released as a joint statement by 31 organizations, including FairTest, the National School Boards Association, the National Education Association, and the NAACP.

Nicole Francis-Williams, the interim director of education at the NAACP, believes that the forum can shed light on the impact of the education law on civil rights. She argues that it is impossible to apply a standardized approach to assess a diverse population.

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  • reubenyoung

    Reuben Young is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been teaching in the United States for over 10 years, and has written extensively on educational topics. He is also a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and has been honored with several awards.

reubenyoung

reubenyoung

Reuben Young is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been teaching in the United States for over 10 years, and has written extensively on educational topics. He is also a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and has been honored with several awards.

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