We received some terrific comments on the Principals’ Office in response to the recent posting “Is NCLB Working?” One commenter said that Jack Jennings, the CEO of the Center on Education Policy (CEP), cautioned against jumping to any conclusions about the CEP report (Has Student Achievement Increased Since No Child Left Behind?) saying that “it is very difficult, if not impossible, to prove causality between state test score trends and NCLB.”

So the Principals’ Office went straight to the source. Jennings is quoted in the CEP press release as saying that: “The weight of evidence indicates that state test scores in reading and mathematics have increased overall since No Child Left Behind was enacted. However, there should be no rush to judgment as there may be many factors contributing to the increased achievement.”

The CEP report also says that student achievement in reading and mathematics have increased overall since the passage of NCLB, but leaves the door open about whether it’s all due to NCLB or NCLB and other factors such as increased learning, teaching to tests, more lenient tests, scoring or data analyses, and changes in the populations tested.

The bottom line, as we mentioned in last week’s post, is that only 13 states have enough data to compare rates of improvement before and after the law was passed. Tell us what you think. Is NCLB working in your school? With the reauthorization looming, we’d like to hear your thoughts on this most important education legislation.

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re: Is NCLB Working? Part II

NCLB is working in my school! (at least on paper) I am employed in a fairly wealthy school district in Michigan. We have great community support, a decent budget, and have made AYP so far. People who take a brief look at that information would be quick to jump to the conclusion that we are a great school district and that NCLB is working wonderfully

The fact is, though, that our teachers do so much teaching "to the test" and test-taking skills that they rarely have good quality teaching time in the fall (our MEAP tests are taken in the fall). Perhaps our students are simply better at reading and comprehending test questions, rather than the literature that's expected. I wonder how much more we could be teaching and exposing students to if we had that time back

NCLB is littered with flaws and desperately needs an overhaul. It is a good gesture, but I have wondered for a while "since when did the federal government have the right to regulate schools?" We have been battering NCLB for years now. It is time that we take some power back and actually act on this poor piece of legislation instead of discussing it further.

I will say, however, that since NCLB, our school system spends more time examining real data from these tests. We use the information to drive instruction. I do think that aspect is very helpful, and may not be as common without NCLB.

re: Is NCLB Working? Part II

Well, I think that NCLB is more than seriously flawed. The concept sounds great until you actually read what the law says. I have a degree in Special Education and our district has made AYP on and off for this disaggregated group throughout this time. The students' IEP's are written to show where they should be taught yet we expect them to perform much higher on the PSSA test here in Pennsylvania. Yet we change criteria for students in vocational schools that may have abilities above the special education students who are only educated in their home school. The logic is missing here...
Also, we take away monies from struggling districts when they don't perform. It is a sure fire method for failure.
If we have a national law policing us shouldn't we all have the same standards across the country? If the bureaucrats in Washington really want to improve education they should think about these things instead of passing laws to passify some Political Action groups who want to privatize public education.

re: Is NCLB Working? Part II

The school I teach at is a feeder school in a district that has met AYP the last three years. Is NCLB working, well we will not fully be able to answer that question until this generation of test takers finishes their educational career. My biggest concern is that when students leave school and were able to successfully answer the questions needed to help their school reach AYP, will they be able to take those answers and actually apply them in real world situations? Are we preparing our students for the future or for a test? I am also wondering about those schools that are not reporting results. Are they still receiving Federal funding?

re: Is NCLB Working? Part II

I would believe the data that reading and math scores have increased, but I am not sure how much of that can be attributed to the positive benefits of NCLB. In my experience, it seems that some teachers teach to the test. School districts have purchased testing tools that can measure how a student will do on the test (4Sight) and spend a lot of time preping students for the test. It also appears that the tests have become easier in recent years. There is more pressure on teachers to cover "test" material and other important content has been left behind. I would say NCLB is definitely a double-edged sword. There is no easy answer.