Stimulus Bill Keeps Alive Important NCLB Issues

February 18, 2009 1 min read

Rep. George Miller told my colleague Alyson Klein that the economic stimulus package would make it easier to reauthorize NCLB. By putting money on the table for schools, President Obama has demonstrated that he is going to be serious about fully funding the law, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee argued.

What he didn’t mention is that the short-term financing measure will require that states and districts to prove that they are meeting important goals and providing significant supports required under NCLB. As Charlie Barone says, states have some “real work” to do.

To qualify for a share of the $53.6 billion fiscal stabilization fund, a state will have to describe what it’s doing to:

1.) Increase the number of students meeting the state’s definition of proficiency;
2.) Comply with the rules requiring a uniform graduation rate, which the Bush administration published back in October (and which many education groups would like to see put on hold);
3.) Close the achievement gap between whites and minorities with historically low achievement.

But wait, there’s more. A state also would need to promise that it will:

1.) Address the inequitable distribution of highly qualified teachers (as defined by NCLB) to assure that students in high-poverty schools have equal access to high-quality instruction;
2.) Improve the quality of tests used under NCLB;
3.) Support schools struggling to make NCLB’s achievement goals.

The details are on page 433 of the bill.

Districts interested in money from the stimulus law’s $650 million innovation fund will need to:

1.) Prove that they have “significantly closed” the achievement gap cited in NCLB;
2.) Have met their AYP goals for two consecutive years or show overall increases in student achievement;
3.) Demonstrate that they’ve made “significant progress” in recruiting highly qualified teachers, improving graduation rates, and other undefined measures.

You can read the list starting on page 438 of the bill.

These requirements mean that the NCLB law’s important goals and accountability measures will continue—at least for the two years that the stimulus money is flowing to district..

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.