No Child Left Behind has been unsuccessful, says bipartisan report
Report says US has been outperformed by a majority of advanced industrial nations as well as some less-developed nations since bill was passed in 2001
It’s been almost 15 years since the US Congress passed the much-derided No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education reform bill in an effort to improve American students’ international competitiveness in reading and math, which had been falling for quite some time.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of legislators from the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) declared in a new report that the reform efforts of states in the wake of NCLB had been unsuccessful.
“After all of the national, state and district reform efforts during the decade following No Child Left Behind, the US was outperformed not only by a majority of the advanced industrial nations, but by a growing number of less-developed nations as well,” they wrote.
The NCLB is most infamous for its stringent standardized testing requirements through which schools whose students failed to show progress over two years could face significant sanctions – including state takeovers or being made into private charter schools. It also included provisions requiring that all teachers have a bachelor’s degree in the field they were teaching and a state certification.
But though the law established a federal framework, the implementation of the federal education reform law was largely left to the states, many of whom experimented in different ways. And, though NCLB focused on using student assessments to determine and, hopefully, improve student achievement, the often unpopular testing regimens and continuing dissatisfaction with the public education system led to other reforms in some states, many driven by political or ideological concerns.
None of them, the group found, have worked on a national scale.
“In retrospect, the NCSL study group concludes that states have tried to find individual ‘silver bullets’ without setting decisive goals and creating a thoughtful, systemic approach to building a coherent system with an appropriate timeline for implementation, as did the other high-performing countries,” the authors stated.
The authors include 22 state lawmakers, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.
Robert Behning, an Indiana state representative who served on the study group, said the participants were able to set politics aside to agree that they needed to call out the failure of reforms.
“Most people would say that we need to do what we can to take politics out of education,” said Behning, a Republican. “We need to move forward.”
The study’s authors focus on four solutions to the problems: creating comprehensive plans in states to improve education rather than fixing problems one at a time; improving the technical education offerings for students who might not opt for college degrees; improving support for struggling students, particularly those with economic challenges that can affect their ability to learn, and early childhood education programs; and vastly improving the system of recruitment, training and professional development for teachers while increasing their autonomy in the classroom.
The report focuses, at one point, on the American system of educational funding: in many states, driven by property taxes in individual districts, the system of school funding all but ensures that the children of the wealthy have more No Child Left Behind has been unsuccessful, says bipartisan report | Education | The Guardian: