NCLB Turns Three
During this year’s presidential campaign, public education at times took center stage as candidates debated the merits, outcomes and funding of the No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB provisions affect every public school district in our nation. Its requirements and funding have implications for teaching quality, accountability, student achievement, English language learning, supplemental services, technology, and parent and public participation.
Signed into law on January 8, 2001, NCLB has been hailed as a victory for accountability and bipartisanship. But has NCLB been a victory for children? To ensure that communities, parents, educators had the chance to weigh in on this critical question, IDRA joined Public Education Network’s national effort to gather public testimony on NCLB (see Impact of NCLB). PEN has received more than 11,000 responses and will summarize these in a national report due early 2005.
IDRA continues to measure NCLB’s progress against a consistent yardstick and four central questions:
- Does NCLB increase school accountability without penalizing children?
- To what extent does NCLB promote quality teaching and learning?
- Does NCLB promote equitable resources and excellent outcomes for all children in our public school system?
- How does NCLB affect the public role in public education?
A Snapshot of What IDRA is Doing
Conducting Research – As one indicator of NCLB performance, the Department of Education requires all states to measure high school graduation rates (HSGR). In 1986, IDRA developed a prototype for examining attrition. This model is now being used nationally to develop graduation estimates. With our partners in Texas and across the country, we are also examining the links between graduation rates and quality teaching, school funding, and college access and success.
Developing Leaders – IDRA has hosted three InterAction forums to create policy solutions to address disparities in higher education access and success of Latino students. The policy solutions stemming from those forums will be presented at a statewide seminar set for February 2, 2005. Invited participants include state policymakers, K-12 educators, university leaders, and community and business advocates.
Informing Policy – School performance under NCLB depends on equitable funding. In conjunction with the Texas Latino Education Coalition, this past year IDRA launched www.texans4fairfunding.org to keep Texans informed about school finance issues and what is at stake if equity provisions are lost.
Engaging Communities – Through presentations and trainings with parents, IDRA is working to ensure that families are well-informed about NCLB requirements and options.
What You Can Do
With such broad-ranging impact and upcoming congressional review of NCLB in 2005, your view about NCLB’s impact and involvement are critical. Here are three things you can do:
Get informed on NCLB implementation. For more information on professional development packages that build on the strengths of all students and parents, see http://www.idra.org/content/view/22/.
Get involved in Title I and Title II planning, allocation, and evaluation. Ensure that parents and communities are full participants in your school district, community, and state. For more information, see: Using NCLB to Improve Student Achievement: An Action Guide for Community and Parent Leaders (http://www.publiceducation.org/pdf/Publications/Teacher_Quality/PEN_CommActionGuide.pdf).
Get results by joining organizations and coalitions like the Texas Latino Education Coalition that press for excellent, equitable public schools (contact IDRA at 201-444-1710 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Additional Research and Resources
- Findings from NCLB public hearings sponsored by PEN (http://www.publiceducation.org/). See summary of the Texas hearing held by IDRA.
- Listening to Teachers: Classroom Realities and No Child Left Behind, Harvard Civil Rights Project
- NCLB Teaching Quality Mandates: Findings and Themes from the Field, Southeast Center for Teaching Quality
- Online research on NCLB compiled by AACTE Education Policy Clearinghouse (http://www.edpolicy.org/research/nclb/index.php).
- Learn. Vote. Act. The Public’s Responsibility for Public Education, a national poll conducted by PEN and Education Week
[©2005, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]