Puzzled states: the success of the No Child Left Behind Act largely depends on the states' willingness and ability to implement the law. Will Washington grant them a hearing?
IN JANUARY 2002, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH signed a comprehensive revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act “Title I” redirects here. For other uses of "Title I", see Title I (disambiguation).
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 77, ) is a United States federal statute enacted April 111965. of 1965. Known popularly as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB NCLB No Child Left Behind (US education initiative) ) Act and passed with strong bipartisan support in Congress, this new legislation promises an important shift in efforts at all levels to improve the quality of public education. Integral to its purpose is an array of tough-minded mandates governing student assessment and school accountability.
Though the federal government is the driving force behind NCLB, the states will ultimately be responsible for its outcome. A critical provision requires every state education department to develop and implement an annual accountability plan. Beginning with the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, each state was required to devise a substantive definition of the skills and knowledge that a child should learn in each grade. States were then to develop tests to examine whether schools and students are meeting the standards. Starting with the 2005-06 school year, NCLB requires that states administer reading and mathematics tests annually in grades 3 through 8. By 2007-08 states will need to assess achievement in science as well. Within 12 years, states are expected to have all their students performing at an academically proficient pro·fi·cient
Having or marked by an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation, profession, or branch of learning.
An expert; an adept. level in core subject areas.
Each state, district, and school under NCLB will be expected to register"adequate yearly progress Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, is a measurement defined by the United States federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically. " toward meeting these goals. Progress is to be measured both for all students and for students disaggregated Broken up into parts. into various subgroups, including disadvantaged students, those with limited English proficiency pro·fi·cien·cy
n. pl. pro·fi·cien·cies
The state or quality of being proficient; competence.
Noun 1. proficiency - the quality of having great facility and competence , students with disabilities, and those from racial or ethnic minority populations.
School performance will be publicly reported via state, district, and school"report cards." Schools that do not achieve adequate yearly progress will be subject to increasingly stringent sanctions--notifying all parents of the failure, allowing students to switch schools, and ultimately reorganizing under new leadership. Districts failing to make adequate progress face similar sanctions Sanctions is the plural of sanction. Depending on context, a sanction can be either a punishment or a permission. The word is a contronym.
Sanctions involving countries:
Meeting these requirements will pose a major challenge for states lacking much experience with accountability. A recent Education Commission of the States The Education Commission of the States (ECS) was founded as a result of the creation of the Compact for Education, supported by all 50 states and approved by Congress in 1965. The original idea of establishing an interstate compact on education and creating an operational arm to follow up report indicates that just 15 states currently have testing programs that conform to Verb 1. conform to - satisfy a condition or restriction; "Does this paper meet the requirements for the degree?"
coordinate - be co-ordinated; "These activities coordinate well" the new requirements (see Figure 1). Many more lack the infrastructure needed to support the level of data collection, disaggregation dis·ag·gre·ga·tion
1. A breaking up into component parts.
2. An inability to coordinate various sensations and a failure to observe their mutual relations. , and reporting that the new law requires.
Achieving full compliance with the new law may prove a less formidable task in states like Texas and North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. , where mature accountability systems are already in place. However, already having some type of accountability structure in place could turn out to be a mixed blessing mixed blessing
an event or situation with both advantages and disadvantages
mixed blessing n it's a mixed blessing → tiene su lado bueno y su lado malo
. In some cases, the challenge may be to sustain whatever public acceptance a previous statewide accountability effort has garnered while making the changes necessary to make it compliant with the new federal guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. .
The Education Commission of the States has developed a unique database that identifies the extent to which each of the 50 states is meeting the law's requirements. Using the database, we calculated a national average score for NCLB compliance and then assigned each of the 50 states to one of three categories: 1) high-readiness, 2) mid-readiness, and 3) lower-readiness. From these three groupings, we selected three high-readiness states, two mid-readiness states, and three lower-readiness states as case studies. Florida, New York Florida is the name of some places in the U.S. state of New York:
Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15. represented the second; and Missouri, New Hampshire New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut R. forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E). , and Washington the third. Collectively these eight states educate more than 18 million children, nearly 40 percent of the country's school population.
In an effort to identify where individual states are situated as they attempt to conform to the new legislation, we conducted informal, open-ended, structured interviews with key policymakers in each of these states. The aim was to understand their perceptions or estimations of their readiness for NCLB, to hear about the challenges they have confronted, their chief concerns, the degree to which popular support exists for enhanced accountability, opposition (if any) to statewide testing programs, and other salient features of each state's situation.
Our sample of states ranges from Texas, which for obvious reasons was the inspiration for NCLB'S view of accountability, to New Hampshire, which has yet to even begin rating schools based on their performance. States like Texas and California have more than a decade of experience with assessment and accountability, while Missouri and New Hampshire have only recently been pulled into the standards-based reform movement by federal mandates.
Nevertheless, our interviews with state officials showed that policymakers are confident about their state's ability to comply with the law, though some are more ready than others. Making things easier, state officials report, is the steady subsiding sub·side
intr.v. sub·sid·ed, sub·sid·ing, sub·sides
1. To sink to a lower or normal level.
2. To sink or settle down, as into a sofa.
3. To sink to the bottom, as a sediment.
4. of organized group opposition to school accountability in most of these states. "The naysayers are falling off now and people are realizing that reform and accountability are good things," said Rob MacGregor, Washington State's assistant superintendent Assistant Superintendent, or Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), was a rank used by police forces in the British Empire. It was usually the lowest rank that could be held by a European officer, most of whom joined the police at this rank. for school improvement. This partially reflects the fact that most states had accepted the ideas that schools should be held responsible for student performance and that results from standardized tests A standardized test is a test administered and scored in a standard manner. The tests are designed in such a way that the "questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent"  should play a large role in determining consequences (to view the consequences for schools failing to make adequate yearly progress, see Figure 2). Consider that before the passage of NCLB, 30 states had already developed and implemented statewide school rating programs that were in place during the 2002-03 school year. Other states were in the midst Adv. 1. in the midst - the middle or central part or point; "in the midst of the forest"; "could he walk out in the midst of his piece?"
midmost of developing programs that will start up in the next year or two.
In states where accountability had yet to take root, the federal legislation seems to have changed the political landscape. For example, in New Hampshire, a state with a long history of local control, legislators had failed on several occasions to pass accountability legislation. NCLB speeded things along immensely. By early 2003, state officials had proposed accountability legislation that passed the state senate and as of May was under consideration by the state house of representatives' finance committee. Once enacted, it was expected to open the door for the development of a true statewide accountability system. Paul Ezen, deputy commissioner for the New Hampshire Department of Education, says that NCLB supported the direction "that both the state board and the legislature have been trying to go in the past."
In other states, NCLB has in a strange way brought local and state-level policymakers together. For example, teacher groups in California had previously voiced discomfort with the state's accountability program and Academic Performance Index for all schools. Now, with the requirements of NCLB looming looming: see mirage. , many one-time critics express their affection for the performance index. To some extent, federal policymakers are playing the "bad guy," making state-level requirements appear far more reasonable in those states with longstanding accountability systems.
Of course, not everyone is breaking bread, and opposition is coming from some surprising sources. In New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , well-publicized boycotts It may never be fully completed or, depending on its its nature, it may be that it can never be completed. However, new and revised entries in the list are always welcome. This is a list of boycotts. of state tests have been organized in wealthy, high-performing suburbs of New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. like Scarsdale. In South Carolina, too, Jo Anne Anderson Anne Anderson may refer to: People
Nonetheless, widespread support for accountability could crumble crum·ble
v. crum·bled, crum·bling, crum·bles
To break into small fragments or particles.
1. To fall into small fragments or particles; disintegrate. under the increasing financial pressures facing the states. Nearly all of the officials we spoke with expressed strong concerns that NCLB demands increased expectations and efforts at a time when districts are experiencing budgetary shortfalls and even staff reductions. Nowhere was this problem more evident than in New Hampshire, which boasts a well-known state law forbidding "unfunded mandates An unfunded mandate is a statute that requires government or private parties to carry out specific actions, but does not appropriate any funds for that purpose. Examples
overseer, superintendent - a person who directs and manages an organization association has published a widely disseminated disseminated /dis·sem·i·nat·ed/ (-sem´i-nat?ed) scattered; distributed over a considerable area.
Spread over a large area of a body, a tissue, or an organ. report highlighting the "hidden costs" of NCLB, estimating that for every $70 of federal funds Federal Funds
Funds deposited to regional Federal Reserve Banks by commercial banks, including funds in excess of reserve requirements.
These non-interest bearing deposits are lent out at the Fed funds rate to other banks unable to meet overnight reserve coming in, it would cost $570 of state monies to comply with the law." You can't mandate anything without paying for it," says New Hampshire's Ezen. "That's going to be a real trigger for us. I think if the [hidden] cost issue continues to eat away at people, that may be the stumbling block stum·bling block
An obstacle or impediment.
any obstacle that prevents something from taking place or progressing
Noun 1. ."
Officials in other states hypothesized that reluctant educators have thus far cooperated with accountability requirements in return for the promise of financial assistance for both high-performing and low-performing schools. However, if the state is unable to deliver its end of the bargain, support for accountability is likely to suffer.
Support for NCLB is by no means universal among state officials. Interestingly, it was the education officials from states with more "mature" accountability systems who expressed the most detailed reservations about NCLB. While policymakers in some states struggle to get their assessments and ratings systems off the ground, high-readiness states worry about technical issues related to schools' ability to meet their targets for adequate yearly progress. For instance, officials in Florida, a high-readiness state where the "A+ Accountability System" doles out vouchers to students in low-performing schools, doubt that states can meet NCLB's long-term proficiency goals. John Winn, Florida's deputy commissioner for accountability research and measurement, says,"No Child Left Behind has to change.... The biggest disconnect disconnect - SCSI reconnect that has to be addressed is this expectation of 100 percent proficiency after 12 years." Florida, he noted, is a rapid-growth state, experiencing a constant influx of immigrants lacking English proficiency. The expectation that schools can achieve complete proficiency under conditions that are by no means under the state's control is unrealistic. For Winn, a better alternative would be to base accountability not on a student's academic "status" at any one point in time, but instead on documented "growth" in achievement.
While Bill Padia, director of the policy and evaluation division at the California Department of Education The California Department of Education is a California agency that oversees public education. The Department oversees funding, testing, and holds local educational agencies accountable for student achievement. , thinks California's state accountability plan is "relatively close" to full NCLB compliance, he too reports that California educators are skeptical of a system where"you just raise the bar every year and the bar will be up at 100 percent in 12 years." Of special concern are simulations showing that within five to six years, practically every school in the state would fail to meet the progress requirement."If you're going to tell 89 to 95 percent of the schools that you're not making it" says Padia, "what good is it to have accountability?" Striking a similar note, South Carolina education official Jo Anne Anderson asked, "Will people just roll their eyes and see it as a meaningless expectation, or will they really roll up their sleeves and think we've got to do something about this?" Given the potential for large numbers of schools to fall short of adequate yearly progress goals in many states, several officials questioned the viability of the school choice provisions of NCLB. After all, if nearly all schools in California are labeled as failing in a few years, what choices will the students and parents have?
Officials in low-readiness states expressed some concerns about these issues as well. Rob MacGregor of Washington State presides over a system that, while it has assessments in place, does not formally rank all of the schools in the state-only the low performers are identified. Yet he still harbors doubts about NCLB's long-term prospects, at least in its current form. "Based on the idea that a school has to fail to meet [progress goals] for two consecutive years, we can project that ... we'll probably have 90 schools in school improvement next year. Then, the following year, there will probably be 450 or more. And we may have more in the coming years." He said it was possible that a rigorously enforced NCLB would drive people out of their careers in education. "I hope we don't have good people leaving the profession," he remarked.
One challenge that officials in high-readiness states routinely cite is their ability to change mature accountability systems that took years of hard-fought political battles to create. Such officials oversee systems with well-established regulations and procedures and are understandably reluctant to overhaul them. They are also concerned that asking teachers to buy into yet another shift in policy will undermine the credibility of state department of education officials themselves. "All that we ask," said New York official Ira Schwartz," is that we be given sufficient flexibility so that we can meet the spirit of No Child Left Behind without having to dismantle dis·man·tle
tr.v. dis·man·tled, dis·man·tling, dis·man·tles
a. To take apart; disassemble; tear down.
b. what we think is, and what has been judged by others to be, a very effective system of standards, assessment, and accountability."
There could be many circumstances, officials noted, in which schools that score high on state systems fail to meet NCLB's requirements for progress. One of the key reasons for a possible disconnect is the law's requirement that not only the entire school but also racial, ethnic, economic, and other subgroups within the school make adequate yearly progress. This method of calculating a school's progress has been referred to as a "trip wire" system, in which poor performance by one subgroup sub·group
1. A distinct group within a group; a subdivision of a group.
2. A subordinate group.
3. Mathematics A group that is a subset of a group.
tr.v. in one subject area can "trip up" an entire school. Paul Ezen of New Hampshire asked," Is the specialed population in the school going to throw a school into [adequate yearly progress] failure when the majority of the student body is making the goal?" According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. NCLB, the answer is yes, and this worries many policymakers. They believe that progress among all student subgroups in a school is an important goal, but that this measure of performance is bound to be problematic, especially in an ethnically diverse state like California, where subgroups within a school can number in the double digits Double Digits was a pricing game on the American television game show, The Price Is Right. Played from April 20, 1973 through May 18, 1973's show, it was played for a car and used small prizes. . In such circumstances, it is difficult to avoid statistical "mischief A specific injury or damage caused by another person's action or inaction. In Civil Law, a person who suffered physical injury due to the Negligence of another person could allege mischief in a lawsuit in tort. " and false negatives because test scores can bounce around from year to year for reasons other than genuine changes in student achievement.
One subgroup that has raised particular concern is students with limited English proficiency (LEP (Light Emitting Polymer) An organic polymer that glows (emits photons) when excited by electricity. LEP screens are used to make organic LED (OLED) displays and are expected to compete with LCD screens in the future. See OLED. ). Criss Cloudt, associate commissioner for accountability reporting and research in the Texas Education Agency, said, "The problem with the LEP group is that, once those students become proficient, they exit the group." The natural question is, how will that subgroup of students meet the performance targets when students who score at proficient levels are quickly taken from the group?
A related concern of policymakers is whether federal officials will get involved in the setting of proficiency levels. A clear incentive exists for states to set these levels low so as to avoid failure on the scale noted above. The state officials we interviewed indicated that their states had high proficiency standards and were not likely to lower them simply to increase their chances of meeting federal guidelines. However, the possibility of this type of gamesmanship games·man·ship
1. The art or practice of using tactical maneuvers to further one's aims or better one's position: is real and should be watched carefully.
In addition, a few states that have embraced accountability have the technological capacity to assess schools' performance on the basis of the degree to which individual students improve each year. For example, a few states use longitudinal lon·gi·tu·di·nal
Running in the direction of the long axis of the body or any of its parts. growth models that, in as careful a way as possible, measure the "value added Value Added
The enhancement a company gives its product or service before offering the product to customers.
This can either increase the products price or value. " by a given school in the course of a year. Clearly, such a model does a better job of measuring school "effectiveness" than a model that simply provides a snapshot (1) A saved copy of memory including the contents of all memory bytes, hardware registers and status indicators. It is periodically taken in order to restore the system in the event of failure.
(2) A saved copy of a file before it is updated. of the percentage of students scoring above a given benchmark. Ironically, however, it is not clear that these growth models would fulfill ful·fill also ful·fil
tr.v. ful·filled, ful·fill·ing, ful·fills also ful·fils
1. To bring into actuality; effect: fulfilled their promises.
2. the more simplistic sim·plism
The tendency to oversimplify an issue or a problem by ignoring complexities or complications.
[French simplisme, from simple, simple, from Old French; see simple federal requirements for adequate yearly progress, which dictate that the performance of students at each grade level be measured against a fixed standard of proficiency. Should these states have to discard their existing system and move toward one that is more likely to fulfill federal requirements but is less desirable according to most experts in testing and measurement? Of particular concern are states such as North Carolina that use scaled scores to measure students' academic growth longitudinally lon·gi·tu·di·nal
a. Of or relating to longitude or length: a longitudinal reckoning by the navigator; made longitudinal measurements of the hull.
b. across the entire spectrum of student performance. Would we want to discourage a system that provides incentives to pay attention to students at all levels of proficiency in favor of one that might encourage educators to focus exclusively on those students near proficiency cut-off cut-off Anesthesiology The point at which elongation of the carbon chain of the 1-alkanol family of anesthetics results in a precipitous drop in the anesthetic potential of these agents–eg, at > 12 carbons in length, there is little anesthetic activity, scores?
In California, Padia reports, a consensus has emerged in favor of trying to make NCLB work, but without necessarily sacrificing valuable features of the state's existing accountability system. However, with regard to adequate yearly progress, state officials do not expect a great deal of flexibility from federal officials and have conceded con·cede
v. con·ced·ed, con·ced·ing, con·cedes
1. To acknowledge, often reluctantly, as being true, just, or proper; admit. See Synonyms at acknowledge.
2. that their current accountability measure, the Academic Performance Index, is not likely to meet federal regulations. As a result, California intends to overlay (1) A preprinted, precut form placed over a screen, key or tablet for identification purposes. See keyboard template.
(2) A program segment called into memory when required. federal requirements onto its own system.
Bert Schulte of Missouri's Division of School Improvement predicts that his state will make adequate yearly progress simply another indicator of school performance within the present accountability system. The aim, Schulte explained, is "to marry what we're doing with the No Child Left Behind expectations as fully as possible ... and not let the No Child Left Behind process serve as a trump card that overrides a lot of the things that we already have in place."
A common perception in education circles is that there is no need to take any particular reform effort too seriously, if only because in short order it will be supplanted by something else. If this is not to be NCLB's fate, some measure of accommodation from the federal government will be critically important. State education officials--many of them, at any rate--have labored diligently dil·i·gent
Marked by persevering, painstaking effort. See Synonyms at busy.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin d to persuade teachers and school administrators (groups typically not strongly in favor of testing initiatives) to support the strengthening of accountability measures. Care must be taken, then, not to interpret and apply NCLB in ways that diminish the credibility of its strongest supporters. Remember that some of the gravest concerns come from officials in states like Texas, New York Texas is a hamlet in Oswego County, New York, USA, near the southeastern corner of Lake Ontario. It is officially part of the town of Mexico. Geography
Texas lies on Little Salmon Creek, about one-half mile above the mouth of that stream on Lake Ontario, on an east-west , and Florida--states that are already the vanguard of the accountability movement. It seems important that their efforts not be inadvertently thwarted thwart
tr.v. thwart·ed, thwart·ing, thwarts
1. To prevent the occurrence, realization, or attainment of: They thwarted her plans.
2. by the imposition of federal strictures they simply cannot accommodate. As Texas's Criss Cloudt put it, "I'm hoping [federal officials] will find some ways to give ... states greater flexibility, particularly those that have a demonstrated track record of holding schools accountable"
While flexibility is key to the successful implementation of No Child Left Behind, states must remain true to the law's intent. So far, the news is mixed on this front. The good news is that, in a Rose Garden press conference held on June 10, President Bush celebrated the approval of all the states' accountability plans. Each plan outlines how the state will meet the requirement for adequate yearly progress, leading to the ultimate goal of 100 percent proficiency by the year 2012.
Whether these plans will leap from paper to practice remains to be seen. But already there is evidence that federal officials are not holding the line on key NCLB requirements. Iowa, for example, still has no statewide academic standards or benchmarks. If the Department of Education is not defending No Child Left Behind at the planning stage, what will happen when it comes time to enforce its full-scale implementation? Moreover, if federal officials are seen as being flexible with states that ignore the spirit of the law, while officials in other states are dutifully du·ti·ful
1. Careful to fulfill obligations.
2. Expressing or filled with a sense of obligation.
du modifying long-existing accountability programs to conform with the technical details of NCLB, much credibility will be lost.
Many States Left Behind (Figure 1) According to the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, just 15 states have testing programs that conform to all of the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The states vary greatly in the degree to which they meet individual NCLB requirements. % of All States on Track to Meet NCLB REQUIREMENT Each Requirement Single statewide accountability system 63% All public schools included in accountability system 65% Adequate yearly progress defined to expect 100% proficiency within 12 years 31% Whether schools made adequate progress determined annually 63% Accountability for all student subgroups 31% Accountability system primarily based on academic performance 65% Definition of adequate yearly progress includes graduation rates (and an additional indicator for middle and elementary schools) 46% Definition of adequate yearly progress based on separate math and reading achievement targets 52% 95% of students in each subgroup are assessed 35% SOURCE: Education Commission of the States. Data are as of June 28, 2003 School Interventions (Figure 2) No Child Left Behind requires that schools that fail to make "adequate yearly progress" for two years in a row be targeted for "school improvement," a program of increasingly intrusive interventions leading to the potential takeover of the school by the district. Year 1 of Within three months of being identified for school Intervention improvement, schools must develop their own improvement plans. Federal law expects that schools and districts will institute at least one of several interventions. Examples include: * Provide professional development for school's teachers and principal * Implement a "comprehensive school reform model" * Strategies to promote effective parental involvement * Extra instructional time (before- and after-school, summer, and extended-year programs) * Development of teacher mentoring programs Districts must provide schools' students with other public school options (including the option to transfer to district charter schools). Year 2 of Districts must make tutoring services available to Intervention low-income students. Year 3 of Schools that continue to fail to make adequate yearly Intervention progress after two years of intervention are subject to "Corrective Action." Districts may: * Replace staff considered to be a cause of the continued low performance * Institute a new curriculum * Significantly decrease the authority of school management * Appoint an outside advisor to the school * Extend the school day or year * Restructure the school's internal organization Year 4 of Districts create plans to restructure schools. Districts Intervention must take at least one of the following actions: * Reopening the school as a public charter school * Replacing all or most of the staff (reconstituting the school) * Outsourcing the school's operations to an external provider (for-profit or nonprofit) * Turning the school over to the state department of education * Other major restructuring of the school Year 5 of Districts must implement restructuring plans before the Intervention beginning of the school year. SOURCE: Adapted from Can Failing Schools Be Fixed? by Ronald C. Brady (Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 2003)
Gary W. Ritter rit·ter
n. pl. ritter
[German, from Middle High German riter, from Middle Dutch ridder, from r is an assistant professor of education and public policy, and Christopher J. Lucas a professor of education, at the University of Arkansas The University of Arkansas strives to be known as a "nationally competitive, student-centered research university serving Arkansas and the world." The school recently completed its "Campaign for the 21st Century," in which the university raised more than $1 billion for the school, used .