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Parent Poll Scrutinizes No Child Left Behind Act

Most parents are supportive of the concepts and goals in the No Child Left Behind Act, but a sizable minority are critical of what they consider to be punitive aspects of the federal law, concludes a national poll of public school parents released last week.

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Most parents are supportive of the concepts and goals in the No Child Left Behind Act, but a sizable minority are critical of what they consider to be punitive aspects of the federal law, concludes a national poll of public school parents released last week.

The nationally representative poll of 699 parents found that 68 percent said they support the ideas behind the school improvement measure. However, 34 percent responded that they see the provisions of the law "punishing schools for failure instead of rewarding them for success."

Nearly half, 46 percent, said they think the law is improving instruction in public schools, but about 25 percent said they believe it is "limiting learning."

The poll—which was sponsored by Results for America, a project of the Civil Society Institute, a Newton, Mass.-based organization that seeks to solve societal problems—also found that 73 percent of the survey respondents do not support the loss of funding for school if its students are failing or "low-performing."

More than half the parents surveyed—52 percent—said they would prefer that federal education dollars be spent on creating smaller classes, and 27 percent said they think the most appropriate use of federal funds is providing technical assistance to states and districts to help them implement effective teaching practices.

Only 10 percent said they want federal money spent on implementing the No Child Left Behind law.

The poll was conducted Princeton, N.J.-based Opinion Research Corporation between Jan. 22 and Feb. 1 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

—Linda Jacobson

Disabilities and Sports

A new research compilation encourages full integration of children with disabilities into school and community sports and recreation activities.

The research roundup, organized by the Cure Our Children Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Carson City, Nev., for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, collects information that shows the benefits of sports participation—such as increased strength and confidence—for children with physical disabilities.

It includes instructions on how to accommodate children with disabilities in various activities. For example, it offers a chart listing regular sports with the corresponding alternatives for students with disabilities.

"Sports and Recreational Activities for Children With Physical Disabilities" is online at

—Lisa Goldstein

Charter Concerns

The federal No Child Left Behind Act carries a range of potential dangers for charter schools, but also offers the advantage of extending to all public schools the kind of accountability for results that charters have long felt, concludes a report prepared for the Denver-based Education Commission of the States.

Charter schools that serve disproportionate numbers of underperforming students—and many fit that bill—may be hurt by test-driven accountability that focuses on absolute scores rather than gains over time, the report says.

Meeting the law's teacher-credentialing requirements is also a challenge for many charter schools, it says, in part because of their small size.

—Caroline Hendrie

Head Start Health

Poor children in Head Start are more likely to receive medical, dental, and other services than poor children not enrolled in the federal program, according to an analysis from the Center for Law and Social Policy, a research and advocacy group based in Washington.

In 2002, for example, 86 percent of Head Start children were screened for possible medical conditions affecting their health and development, while only 28 percent of poor children covered by Medicaid had received the required screenings.

Children in Head Start also tend to be more up-to-date on immunizations than other children from low-income families who are not enrolled in the program. Recent data show that 93 percent of Head Start children had received all of their required vaccines, compared with 72 percent of poor children not in the program, and 79 percent of children from higher- income families.

The report also notes that 78 percent of children in Head Start in 2002 visited the dentist. A report from the U.S. General Accounting Office, the congressional watchdog agency, showed that in 1999, only about 20 percent of poor preschoolers overall had had a dental exam.

—Linda Jacobson

Newcomers' Needs

A new report examines the strategies used by secondary school "newcomer" programs to help recent immigrant students who have little or no English language proficiency adjust to school life in the United States.

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The four-year study—conducted by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence, based at the University of California, Santa Cruz— examined 115 newcomer programs that enrolled close to 15,000 middle and high school students. In 85 percent of the programs, at least 80 percent of the students were eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.

More than half the 115 programs are in four states: California, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

—Kevin Bushweller

Vol. 23, Issue 23, Page 25

Published in Print: February 18, 2004, as Report Roundup
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