NCLB’s 10th Anniversary No Cause For Celebration
By Sara Robertson
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law by former President George W. Bush 10 years ago this Sunday. NCLB changed the focus of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), from emphasizing equal access and closing achievement gaps in education, to focusing on high stakes testing, labeling, and sanctions.
NEA believes the 10th anniversary of NCLB is no cause for celebration and that drastic changes should be made before students and educators are forced to mark yet another anniversary living with this flawed law.
“I meet with thousands of educators as I travel around the country, and the concern I hear most often is the overwhelming burden NCLB presents in classrooms and schools,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “From high-stakes testing to narrowing of the curriculum, this law has missed the mark. Instead of creating a generation of critical thinkers, we are graduating a generation of test takers. Let’s get back to the core purpose of public education and let’s re-balance the federal role: ensuring every student has access to a great education that prepares them for lifelong learning and success in the 21st century.”
School progress cannot accurately be measured by a snapshot of test scores from one test, given on one day in the school year. These high-stakes tests are leaving behind too many students. As members of Congress prepare to consider reauthorization this year, NEA is urging them to get it right this time by listening to those affected most by the law—students, teachers and parents.
NEA’s priorities for ESEA reauthorization are:
- Promote innovation, high expectations, and encourage development of 21st century skills in public schools.
- End the obsession with high-stakes, poor-quality tests, by developing high-quality assessment systems that provide multiple ways for students to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Provide great educators and school leaders for every student.
- Promote public education as a shared responsibility of parents, students, educators, and policymakers.
- Provide increased funding to all states and school districts to meet the growing demand for educating U.S. students to be globally-competitive.
“The time and funds spent on complying with NCLB red tape should be used to promote teacher collaboration, identifying and addressing students’ individual needs and restoring great programs that have been slashed from school offerings because of a focus on math and reading and dwindling funds,” said Van Roekel. “Our students and educators have been calling out to Congress for years now to invest in classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning.”
More information on NEA’s efforts regarding ESEA reauthorization.