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NCLB Outrages

At least give kids more help by fully funding 'No Child'

Note: Their preference is to repeal the law.


It's been five years since President Bush signed the No Child Left
Behind law, and there's little evidence Iowa students are better off
overall. Nor has there been much progress in closing the state's
minority-white test-score gap, which is also slow-going nationwide.

The best changes the law has brought about - more focus on helping
low-achieving students and school accountability - could have been
accomplished without Washington imposing complicated and often absurd
rules on public schools.

Most absurd is the expectation that all students will be proficient in
math and reading by the 2013-14 school year.

Second-most absurd is punishing schools for not making enough progress,
even when progress is considerable.

Congress will consider reauthorizing the law this year. Repeal would be
our preference, but that is unlikely because of bipartisan support for
the misguided assumption that a poorly designed, underfunded program
will eventually succeed.

At least Congress should send states more funding for tutors and other
instruction to assist youngsters who are struggling.

The biggest danger created by the law is that teachers will spend too
much time teaching to standardized tests at the expense of teaching a
rich, challenging curriculum that will prepare U.S. students to compete
with students around the world. Iowa Department of Education Director
Judy Jeffrey said teachers have told her the curriculum is being
narrowed. Jeffrey is concerned that the brightest students are being

Since the law took effect, Iowa's average reading scores have risen
slightly in fourth- and eighth-grades and have stayed fairly flat in
11th grade. Because reform was under way in Iowa before No Child Left
Behind, it's unclear whether the law deserves any credit for the small

Jeffrey would like to see the law revised to reflect more realistic
expectations for children with significant learning disabilities. Rather
than require proficiency on standardized tests, measure success by how
well students accomplish goals in their individualized education plans,
she said.

And instead of counting standardized test scores for children learning
English as a second language after their first year, allow more time for
children who need it, she said.

Those revisions make sense.

Everyone can agree that no child should be left behind, but five years
after the law took effect, it is more apparent than ever that this law
is the wrong approach to strengthening American education.


— Editorial
Des Moines Register


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