[Paleopsych] Heartland: Top 10 Myths about No Child Left Behind ... and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them

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Top 10 Myths about No Child Left Behind ... and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them
The Heartland Institute

    Written By: Lori Drummer
    Published In: New Coalition News & Views
    Publication Date: January 1, 2005
    Publisher: The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change

    If you listen to media reports on the implementation and costs
    associated with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), youve
    been bombarded by a slew of misinformation.

    Below are 10 common myths about NCLB ... and the facts to debunk them.

    Myth 1 -- NCLB is an unfunded mandate that imposes a one-size-fits-all
    education system.

    The president and Congress have funded NCLB, and states have been
    given a great deal of flexibility as they implement the programs

    NCLB not only increased standards for public elementary and secondary
    education--it brought an additional $6.4 billion in federal education
    funding, a 28.5 percent increase. Instead of binding funding to
    specific programs not proven effective to increase academic
    achievement, federal funding is now correlated to several broad areas,
    such as academic achievement, high-quality teachers, parental choice,
    and accountability, for states to find methods that best suit them.

    Myth 2 -- NCLB is nothing more than new federal mandates states have
    to follow.

    Accountability measures were already in place prior to NCLB.

    Under the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary
    Education Act, which preceded NCLBs enactment by eight years, each
    state was required to develop comprehensive academic standards and
    correlate those standards with a curriculum-based exam. Math and
    reading exams, at the very least, were to be administered at three
    grade levels. But states were never held accountable for compliance
    with the 1994 law.

    Myth 3 -- NCLB requires a national standardized test.

    NCLB in fact forbids a national test. States are free to choose the
    testing vehicles that best fit their students needs.

    Myth 4 -- The federal government has imposed unrealistic requirements
    on teachers seeking highly qualified status.

    In order to be certified as a highly qualified teacher, an instructor
    must be fully certified, have a bachelors degree, and have
    demonstrated knowledge in the teachers subject area.

    Every state already mandates the first two requirements. With respect
    to the third requirement, NCLB allows each state education agency to
    choose how it will determine if a teacher has demonstrated
    subject-specific mastery. NCLB gives states the flexibility to
    establish their own highly qualified standards, and states may
    determine who is highly qualified by administering a test or using
    some other objective evaluation system developed or approved by the

    Myth 5 -- Teachers who choose to seek advanced certification will bear
    an unfair financial burden under NCLB.

    NCLB includes new flexibility and increased funding for teachers.
    States have been allocated $2.9 billion for teacher quality programs
    to help districts train, recruit, and retain quality teachers.

    Myth 6 -- School administrators dont have the flexibility to recruit
    and retain teachers.

    Well aware of the need for exemplary teachers in fields such as math,
    science, and special education, NCLBs authors gave states several
    options for attracting uniquely qualified professionals to the
    teaching field.

    Under NCLB, states are authorized to implement recruitment and
    retention programs that can include professional development
    opportunities, differential pay, signing bonuses, performance bonuses,
    and more.

    Myth 7 -- Schools in need of improvement will lose federal funding.

    No financial penalties are imposed on schools that fail to make
    adequate yearly progress under NCLB. In fact, states are required by
    the law to set aside a portion of their Title I funds specifically to
    provide additional assistance to schools in need of improvement.

    Myth 8 -- Schools are required by NCLB to pay for tutors, instead of
    using money on general school improvements.

    If a school is deemed in need of improvement for three consecutive
    years, the school district must provide a supplemental education
    service option for parents. That service can be paid for with Title I
    funds the states will have set aside explicitly for schools in need of

    States are authorized by NCLB to choose from a variety of supplemental
    service options. In addition to offering students tutoring, states may
    turn to public- or private-sector educational service providers,
    additional classes, or individualized education assistance. If
    children trapped in failing school systems are to have a chance at a
    successful education, these new options are key.

    Myth 9 -- NCLB reduces local control of schools.

    After almost four decades of federal government involvement in public
    schools, achieving at best stagnant academic results, NCLB directly
    ties federal education spending to student achievement and school
    success. Such accountability empowers local school officials.

    Under NCLB, for the first time, states and individual school districts
    may transfer to any Title I program they choose up to 50 percent of
    the federal formula grant funds they receive under the Improving
    Teacher Quality State Grants, Educational Technology, Innovative
    Programs, and Safe and Drug-Free Schools programs. NCLB gives states
    and school districts the authority to determine which programs are
    most important and most deserving of funding.

    Myth 10 -- More money will fix the nations education problems.

    The problem with Americas education system has not been a lack of
    funding, but a lack of accountability for the money our schools spend.

    Despite Americas multi-billion-dollar investments in public education,
    U.S. students continue to achieve poorly compared to their foreign
    counterparts, and the achievement gap between rich, poor, white, and
    minority students remains wide. Over the past 20 years,
    inflation-adjusted per-pupil funding has increased by an average of
    $2,269 in the U.S., but Scholastic Aptitude Test scores have declined,
    and 74 percent of public school eighth-graders who took the National
    Assessment of Educational Progress in mathematics failed to reach the
    proficiency level.

    In response to this disconnect between funding and achievement, NCLB
    creates a partnership among school district, state, and federal
    government officials to develop higher standards, increase
    accountability, and improve student academic achievement.

    Lori Drummer (drummer at alec.org) is director of the Education Task
    Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council.

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