Learning From No Child Left Behind

With the law past due for reauthorization, U.S. News asked four experts to offer lessons.

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Signed to law in January 2002, NCLB marked a controversial landmark for the feder­al government in education policy. It mandated high-stakes tests to measure student achievement. Schools that lag behind face penalties. With the law past due for reauthorization, U.S. News asked four experts to offer lessons that can be drawn from it.
Edited by Robert Schlesinger

By Margaret Spellings
Secretary of education for President George W. Bush

What lessons have we learned from the his­toric legislation known as No Child Left Be­hind? The most gratifying is that more kids are learning their lessons. How do we know? Because our schools are now required to find out how each student is doing every year in the key building-block subjects of reading and math...

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By Randi Weingarten
President of the American Federation of Teachers

What have we learned from the No Child Left Behind Act? In a word: lots. Unfor­tunately, most of what we have learned shows that while the law's mission of cre­ating high standards for all children was critical, its focus on stakes (the faulty em­phasis on tests) and sticks (punishing schools in need of help) hasn't...

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By Michael Cohen
President of Achieve, a nonpartisan education re­form group

No Child Left Behind represents a continuation of a 45-year federal commitment to improving the education of poor children.

The law's greatest achievement was insist­ing that data on student achievement be broken down and reported by subgroups, focusing the attention of educators...

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By Andrew Rotherham
Publisher of Educa­tion Sector; author of the blog Eduwonk.com

It is hard to find a national issue with a worse noise-to-signal ratio than the No Child Left Behind law. The contentiousness, obfusca­tion, and sometimes blatant misrepresen­tations leave parents, teachers, and policy­makers baffled about what it requires or what its effects are. They likewise obscure is­sues the law has clearly highlighted and the...

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