Groups Offer Changes for School Law
As controversy over the No Child Left Behind Act persists, 25 education, civil rights, and other groups are forming a coalition to press for a rewrite of central provisions of the bipartisan law.
“Overall, the law’s emphasis needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement,” the groups argue in an Oct. 21 statement.
They propose changing how the law measures academic progress, reducing the amount of testing required, and replacing “sanctions that do not have a consistent record of success” with interventions that enable schools to improve student achievement, to name a few of the plans.
The groups signing on to the statement include the American Association of School Administrators, the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, and the National Education Association.
The groups emphasize their support for the law’s objectives of strong academic achievement for all children and elimination of achievement gaps, and say they support an accountability system that helps in reaching such aims. But they call for “significant, constructive corrections” to the nearly 3-year-old law.
The announcement came only weeks after five other groups representing educators, other civil rights advocates, and business formed their own alliance to support the No Child Left Behind law and promote a better understanding of its provisions. Among its members are the Business Roundtable and the Education Trust.
This organization, calling itself the Achievement Alliance, acknowledges challenges in the law’s implementation, but says it is still the “nation’s best chance” to improve education for all students. ("Alliance Seeks to Defend No Child Left Behind Act," Oct. 6, 2004.)
Since the law was signed by President Bush in early 2002, it has come under increasing attack from a variety of state and local officials, as well as teachers’ unions. The Bush administration has said it opposes changing the law. Asked for comment on the new coalition, Education Department spokeswoman Susan Aspey wrote in an e-mail: “Schools across the nation are making real improvement and we’re going to continue on this course.”
Vol. 24, Issue 09, Page 30