Education

NCLB: What Works vs. Whatever Works

July 25, 2006 1 min read
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As the No Child Left Behind Act is reauthorized this year, one of the most important battles waged will most likely fly below the radar, writes Michael J. Petrilli in this Education Week Commentary. Mr. Petrelli served as the U.S. Department of Education’s associate assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement during President Bush’s first term.

While accountability, adequate yearly progress, and funding will grab most of the headlines during reauthorization, Petrilli highlights the underlying competition between the “what works” and “whatever works” schools of thought that he believes will be critical in shaping NCLB’s future. The “what works” camp, behind initiatives like Reading First and the “highly qualified teachers” mandate, will push for scientifically backed methods for improvement, butting heads with the “whatever works” philosophy that allows schools to be flexible as long as the end result is achieved.

Should NCLB reauthorization efforts stress proven remedies or site-specific flexibility? When it comes to NCLB, what matters more—the means or the end?

A version of this news article first appeared in the TalkBack blog.

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