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To: U.S Secretary of Education
From: Nana Duncan
Date: December 1, 2011
Re: Recommendations for No Child Left Behind Reauthorization
In 2001, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was passed with bipartisan support by the Bush Administration, setting the ambitious goal for proficiency in reading and math for all students in primary and secondary education by 2014. The Act was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, and aimed at restoring quality of education for all children, mainly through: increased accountability for schools, provision of more choices for parents and students (particularly those in low performing schools), stronger emphasis on reading, and greater flexibility for states, school districts, and schools. The Act changed the discourse and landscape for education with its ambitious goals and demanding requirements, and has sparked vigorous debate. In the following, I offer recommendations for the pending reauthorization, with careful consideration and analyses of what has and has not worked with the 2001 Act.
EVALUATING NCLB GOALS
Accountability and Assessment The Act required states to implement accountability systems covering all public schools and students, based on challenging state standards in mathematics and reading. Annual testing and statewide Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) objectives for grades 3-8 aimed at ensuring all students reach proficiency by 2014. Supporters of the Act believe that this fosters educational growth and achievement, and sets standards for teacher qualifications. They also believe that it helps close the achievement gap between white and minority students, by measuring educational status and growth by ethnicity. Detractors would say that this goal of accountability and assessments has simply put a band-aid on symptoms of poor education outcomes, rather than dealing with root causes. In some cases, NCLB has become a burden on state and local...
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