[Paleopsych] Heartland: Top 10 Myths about No Child Left Behind ... and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them
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Fri Oct 7 23:34:27 UTC 2005
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
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
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
Under NCLB, states are authorized to implement recruitment and
retention programs that can include professional development
opportunities, differential pay, signing bonuses, performance bonuses,
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
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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