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Will No Child Left Behind Be Reauthorized This Year?
"Washington Insiders" Make Surprising Predictions

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The No Child Left Behind Act was reauthorized five years ago, in January 2002. The law is scheduled to be reauthorized this year.

Will NCLB be reauthorized in 2007? What changes is Congress likely to make in the law?

First, let's look at a short history of the No Child Left Behind Act. Next, we'll learn what a dozen "Washington insiders" - education association leaders, think tank analysts, lobbyists, and scholars - predict will happen to NCLB in 2007.

A Short History of the No Child Left Behind Act [1]

The No Child Left Behind Act was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).

In the years since Congress enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the federal government spent more than $300 billion dollars to help educate disadvantaged children. Forty years later, only 32 percent of fourth graders can read skillfully at grade level. Many of the 68 percent who cannot read well are minority children and those who live in poverty.[2]

In 2001, Congress added benchmarks, measurements and sanctions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and called it the No Child Left Behind Act. The President signed this bill into law on January 8, 2002.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided a comprehensive plan to address the inequality of educational opportunity for economically disadvantaged children.

On April 11, 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 into law, he said:

"No law I have signed or will ever sign again means more to the future of America."

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 included Title I programs of federal aid to disadvantaged children who live iin poor urban and rural areas. The ESEA was the statutory basis on which early special education legislation was drafted. Because education is primarily and state and local responsibility, ESEA funds are intended to supplement state and local expenditures.

Since 1965, Congress has amended the law several times. Each time Congress reauthorized the law, political leaders spoke to the potential impact of the law.

Education is a critical national security issue for our future. Politics must stop at the schoolhouse door ... We must establish nationally accepted credentials for excellence in teaching ... reward and recognize the best teachers and remove teachers who don't measure up ... Every state should give parents the power to choose the right public school for their children. The right to choose will foster competition and innovation that will make public schools better." - 1997 State of the Union Address by President Clinton

Improving America's Schools Act of 1994

In 1994, during President Clinton's administration, Congress amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and called it the "Improving America's Schools Act." States were required to develop or adopt challenging content, proficiency standards, and assessments. Schools that received Title I funds were required to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward ensuring that students who receive Title I services met these standards. Schools that did not make adequate progress were required to develop corrective action plans. The law did not include sanctions for schools that failed to make progress.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

The centerpiece of the No Child Left Behind Act is the requirement that public schools bring all students to proficiency in reading and math within twelve years - by 2014. The law included stronger accountability measures, new requirements for qualified teachers, testing, and sanctions for schools that fail to make acceptable progress.

The law is scheduled for reauthorization in 2007. Will the law be reauthorized in 2007? When the law is reauthorized, what changes will Congress make?

Survey of "Washington Insiders"

The Fordham Foundation asked a dozen "Washington insiders" for their opinions on these issues. These experts included education lobbyists, association leaders, think tank analysts, and scholars.

Most experts believed that the law will not be reauthorized until after the next presidential election. This prediction is at odds with promises being made by politicians. The experts also believe that a major overhaul of the law is unlikely. They believe that Congress will make some changes in the law but will maintain the key points.

To view the key findings and the survey (currently available in pdf format), click here or go to http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/CrystalAppleNCLBBrief.pdf


Endnotes

[1] "A Short History of the No Child Left Behind Act" is from Chapter 1 of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind.

[2] Why No Child Left Behind is Important to America published by the U. S. Department of Education.
URL: http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/importance/edlite-index.html

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Created: 01/15/07
Revised: 01/22/07



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