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Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind FAQ's: Doing What Works

No Child Left Behind includes many new responsibilities and requirements for states, school districts, and schools. The law also includes new rights and responsibilities for children who attend public schools that receive Title I funds and their parents.

These "Frequently Asked Questions" from the No Child Left Behind website at www.nclb.gov will answer many of your questions about the following topics:

Doing What Works

19 Does No Child Left Behind do anything to prevent education fads, bad ideas or untested curricula from being used in my child's classroom?
20. What is scientifically based research?
21. How does scientifically based research apply to other federal education programs?

19. There are a lot of education fads. Does No Child Left Behind do anything to prevent bad ideas or untested curricula from being used in my child's classroom?

The No Child Left Behind Act puts a special focus on doing what works. The new law stresses the importance of selecting instructional approaches that have a proven track record. For too many years, too many schools have experimented with lessons and materials that failed and have not proven effective.

20. What is scientifically based research?

To say that an instructional practice or program is research-based, we must have carefully obtained, reliable evidence that the program or practice works. For example, an evaluation might measure a group of children who are learning how to read using different methods, and then compare the results to see which method is most successful.

No Child Left Behind moves the testing of educational practices toward the medical model. Whenever the results of scientifically controlled studies (like clinical trials) are available, educators are expected to consider their results before making instructional decisions. Under the new law, federally funded education programs or practices must be based on evidence that validates their usefulness in achieving the stated outcome specified in law.

For instance, there are five essential components of reading instruction:

· phonemic awareness,
· phonics,
· oral reading fluency,
· vocabulary development, and
· comprehension strategies.

These have all been validated through years of peer-reviewed and replicated scientific research into the practice of reading instruction. These findings were reported in the Congressionally mandated National Reading Panel report in April 2000 and have now been written into the new law. If you are more interested in this subject, call 1-800-USA-LEARN and request "Putting Reading First" for parents and "Reading Tips for Parents."

21. How does scientifically based research apply to other federal education programs?

The Department of Education is striving to conduct and collect additional research using the same high scientific standards we use for reading and to apply results to math, science, and comprehensive school reform.

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