No Child Left Behind Act
The most recent and far-reaching federal legislation on education was enacted when Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2001 and renamed it the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). A U.S. Department of Education (2002) publication that introduced NCLB to educators described the legislation as
a landmark in education reform designed to improve student achievement and change the culture of America’s schools. This new law, which President George W. Bush described as “the cornerstone of my administration,” represents a sweeping overhaul of federal efforts to support elementary and secondary education in the United States. (p. ix)
The ultimate goal of NCLB is that all children will be proficient in all subject matter by the year 2014 and will be taught by qualified teachers highly trained in their subjects. States are expected to make annual progress toward the 100% goal by 2014, with initial emphasis on assuring that every child can read at or above grade level by the end of third grade and that all teachers teaching in core academic subjects are “highly qualified” by the end of the 2005–2006 school year. NCLB has four key principles—stronger accountability for results, greater flexibility for schools’ use of federal funds, more options for parents, and an emphasis on curriculum and instructional methods that have been demonstrated to work.
Accountability. Although IDEA already required students with disabilities to participate in state- and district-wide assessments, NCLB requires annual tests in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 for all students (Ziegler, 2002). Test results must be disaggregated for students by poverty levels, race, ethnicities, disabilities, and limited English proficiency. Each school and children from each category must achieve state-determined pass rates, which will gradually rise. Annual school “report cards” will provide comparative information on the performance of each school. By doing so, they will empower parents to make more informed choices about their children’s education. These report cards are intended to show not only how well students are doing on meeting standards but also the progress that disaggregated groups are making in closing achievement gaps. Districts and schools that do not make sufficient yearly progress toward state proficiency goals for their students are initially targeted for assistance and then are subject to corrective action and ultimately restructuring. Schools that meet or exceed objectives will be eligible for “academic achievement awards.” Thus, the term high-stakes testing refers to the system of sanctions for schools that do not meet and incentives for the schools that do.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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