The 10-year anniversary of No Child Left Behind has become a moment of reflection for many of us in education policy. NCLB was landmark legislation, requiring for the first time that states publicly report on their student’s annual progress in reading and math by race, gender and socio-economic status.
The law’s primary goals were to ensure that all students performed at a proficient level in reading and math by 2014, eliminate the achievement gap and provide all children with a highly-qualified teacher. While it failed to accomplish those goals, the law has exposed gaps in student achievement and inequities in states and school districts. Last week’s National Journal Education Expert blog asked:
What is the legacy of No Child Left Behind? Is there positive value in the most problematic portions of the law, like accountability or teacher credentialing? Are there negatives associated with its most successful parts, like reports on student achievement and disaggregated data? What do we know now that we didn't know ten years ago? How will No Child Left Behind influence the K-12 debate in the future?
Several responders discussed the successes and failures of No Child Left Behind. I decided to focus on the lessons learned and what I think the federal role should be in the next and long-awaited reauthorization of the law (officially titled the Elementary and Secondary Education Act). I wrote:
“I think the big lesson from No Child Left Behind is how important it is to find the right balance between federal mandates and state and local decision-making.
“The federal government should set the goals and expectations for student learning and monitor and make public whether those goals are met or not. States and school districts should be allowed more flexibility on how to attain those goals and expectations.
“The federal government should hold states and school districts accountable for equitable funding of schools, including the equitable distribution of teachers and leaders.
“The federal government should continue to conduct and share research on and promote innovation for promising practices to improve schools (PreK-12) and student learning. And the federal government should provide financial incentives and technical assistance to states and school districts seeking to adopt or scale up promising practices.”
You can find my full response here.