As lawmakers look to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), it is important to review the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the law.There is little doubt that by setting standards and demanding accountability greater attention has been brought to the actual performance of our schools.And there is little doubt that NCLB has achieved like nothing before it, focusing our efforts on the unacceptable achievement gaps that exist among students.
Therefore, the reauthorization of NCLB must include rigorous national standards set by the federal government.The federal government’s responsibilities should also include testing students (by the establishment of a national test), the collection and dissemination of data (to provide better information on local school performance to parents), and the distribution of funds (most efficiently accomplished by attaching education dollars to each student).
All other reform priorities should be set by individual states and local districts.School leaders and state and local leaders must be empowered with the authority to get their jobs done. Increased local control over setting priorities also gives parents greater control over the education of their children.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: What it means to you...
In 2001 comprehensive education reform was made law, The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which calls for greater accountability among school districts and more choices for parents and their children. The "four pillars" of NCLB include:
1. Increased Accountability...through the annual testing of all students in grades 3 - 8, and a high school exit exam to identify failing schools and assist students with "supplemental educational services" (SES) and after-school educational programs in order to achieve academic excellence. Also, a provision requiring all teachers of core academic subjects be "highly qualified," i.e. have a bachelor's degree, be fully certified, and have the ability to demonstrate "competency" in core academic subjects. This provision also applies to all Special Education Teachers.
2. Greater Local Control...and flexibility for school districts in how they use federal education funding.
3. Improved Educational Methods...based upon "rigorous scientific research" instead of the latest fad. Examples of successful teaching methods under NCLB include the Reading First program in the primary grades, and the Early Reading First program for preschoolers.
4. More Choices for Parents...if their child is attending a failing school. Parents may cross district boundaries to choose a better performing public school or have their child attend a charter school with transportation provided by the district. Students of failing schools are also eligible to receive tutoring services and other after school educational services provided at the district's expense.
These are the basics of NCLB that parents need to know in order to hold their child's school accountable. True accountability and reform will only happen if parents require school districts to follow the law. For more information on NCLB or to see how provisions of NCLB have affected your state, visit www.nochildleftbehind.gov. or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.