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NCLB Outrages

'No Child' Law on Track, Spellings Says

Stephen Krashen Comment:

Education Secretary Spellings repeats her claims that
thanks to No Child Left Behind “we have made more
progress in the last five years than in the previous
28 …”. She is referring to an increase in reading
scores on a national test given to fourth graders (the
NAEP). Anyone who bothers to look at the data can see
this is false: There is no evidence of improvement on
national test scores since NCLB went into effect and
no evidence of closing of the gap between children
from low and high-income families.

See Gerald W. Bracey’s The 16th Bracey Report on the
Condition of Public Education,
in the October 2006 Phi
Delta Kappan,
and my paper, Did Reading First Work?

Spellings also notes that the goal of No Child Left
Behind is to ensure that all children read and write
at grade level by 2014. The definition of “grade
level” is the 50th percentile. Thus, NCLB wants all
children to be at or above average. I think we have a
math crisis here.

By Amit R. Paley

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said
yesterday that she welcomed proposals to "perfect and
tweak" the No Child Left Behind law as Congress
prepares for what could become a divisive debate on
renewal of the landmark education initiative.
But in an interview five days before the act's fifth
anniversary, Spellings said its implementation was on
track. She rejected calls for a major rewrite of the
law, including some proposals advanced yesterday by a
coalition of about 100 groups with a stake in

"We've made more progress in the last five years than
the previous 28 years," Spellings said. "Can the law
be improved? Should we build on what we've done and
all of that sort of thing? You bet. But I don't hear
people saying: 'You know what? We really don't need to
have education for all students.' "

Her remarks come as various groups begin to weigh in
on the law and what they believe works and what does
not. The No Child Left Behind law is scheduled to be
reauthorized by Congress, but it is uncertain when
lawmakers will act.

The Forum on Educational Accountability -- a coalition
that includes education, religious, civil rights and
disability rights groups -- said yesterday that the
law overemphasizes standardized tests and arbitrary
academic targets. The coalition also criticized
penalties the law imposes on schools that fail to meet

"We don't have to throw out the whole law and make a
big political battle," said Reginald M Felton, a
senior lobbyist for the National School Boards
Association, a member of the coalition. "But we need
to change from the punitive, 'gotcha!' kind of
approach to actual support for progress."

The coalition includes the National Parent Teacher
Association, the NAACP and the National Education
Association, a teachers union. The coalition has
called for more federal education funding to help
schools meet the law's mandates.

Spellings said the past five years have laid the
foundation for the law's key goal of ensuring that
every child can read and write at grade level by 2014.

Under the law, states must test all students in
reading and math from grades 3 to 8 and once in high
school. Schools that fail to make adequate progress
face a range of penalties.

The Bush administration has granted some states
flexibility in how they carry out the law. For
example, North Carolina and Tennessee are
experimenting with a way to rate schools that
emphasizes the year-to-year academic growth of
students rather than how scores compare with fixed

"Have we learned something as we've made public policy
for the last five years that we ought to act on going
forward? Absolutely," Spellings said. "And I've done
some of those things."

She added, "Those are some of the areas that ought to
be discussed in the context of reauthorization."

The law, which passed Congress in 2001 with
overwhelming bipartisan support, was signed by
President Bush on Jan. 8, 2002.
Yesterday, Spellings lauded the incoming education
committee chairmen, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)
and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), as "stalwarts" who
have "stayed very true to the core principles of this

— Amit R. Paley, comments by Stephen Krashen
Washington Post, online comment


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