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ERIC Number: ED521703
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 35
ISSN: ISSN-1075-7031
NCLB: State Interpretations, Early Effects, and Suggestions for Reauthorization. Social Policy Report. Volume 21, Number 4
Porter, Andrew C.; Polikoff, Morgan S.
Society for Research in Child Development
The upcoming reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will be contentious, especially given the size of the act and the role it gives the federal government. When making decisions about reauthorization, it is important to consider the early evidence about the act's implementation and effectiveness. The first important finding about NCLB is that states have implemented the act with widely varying standards. States are given the right to set proficiency levels for the student achievement tests, and a review of the evidence shows that some states have set very high standards and some states have set very low standards. States also have the duty of setting levels of proficiency for schools to make adequate yearly progress (AYP); again, there is great variation in the decisions states have made regarding these AYP cutoffs, and these differences have affected the rate at which schools fall short of AYP. Finally, while NCLB requires all teachers to pass a content test to prove they are highly qualified, some states have made it very easy for teachers to pass these tests, while others have made it very hard. The variability in the implementation of these provisions is difficult to justify. The big question is whether NCLB is causing student achievement to increase. The answer is not clear, but the evidence is more positive than negative. There is a mild upward trend in mathematics achievement since the act was implemented, and this trend is occurring at a greater rate than it was before 2002. Still, there is concern that achievement overall is going up while students at the top and the bottom of the distribution have made no gains. This may be due to the AYP cutoffs, which reward schools for moving the students right around the cutoff, not the students at either end of the distribution. There is evidence of very minor progress toward closing the achievement gaps since NCLB was first passed. NCLB holds schools accountable for their students' learning, a strategy which may help raise achievement. However, if the system were to take all students into account by measuring achievement gains, it may help make the system even more effective. Teacher quality does not appear to have changed much since NCLB; low-income students are still more likely to have unqualified teachers than high-income students. While school choice is included in the act, the evidence shows that few have taken advantage of the offer of school choice, in part because parents are often notified too late to make a decision. Overall, the evidence on the act is mostly neutral to positive, and there is little evidence that the negative effects of the act some predicted have materialized. For reauthorization, lawmakers may consider the following suggestions: taking student achievement gains (value-added to student achievement) into account rather than just student achievement levels; evening out some of the variation in proficiency standards, teacher requirements, and content standards across states; discussing national standards; revising AYP targets to make the 2014 goal more reasonable; holding students accountable for their achievement; and providing supplemental services that are shown to be effective through educational research. With these changes, the act should continue to help teachers improve student achievement though high quality instruction and a rigorous curriculum. (Contains 1 footnote.) [Commentaries from Robert Schwartz, Kathleen McCartney and David N. Figlio are included. Commentaries are individually referenced.
Society for Research in Child Development. 2950 South State Street Suite 401, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Tel: 734-926-0600; Fax: 734-926-0601; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serial; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research in Child Development
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001