Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act – January 2, 2006

/ 2 January 2006 / Parents United

Forum on Educational Accountability – A network of 67 national education and civic organizations.

The undersigned education, civil rights, children’s, disability, and citizens’ organizations are committed to the No Child Left Behind Act’s objectives of strong academic achievement for all children and closing the achievement gap. We believe that the federal government has a critical role to play in attaining these goals. We endorse the use of an accountability system that helps ensure all children, including children of color, from low-income families, with disabilities, and of limited English proficiency, are prepared to be successful, participating members of our democracy.

While we all have different positions on various aspects of the law, based on concerns raised during the implementation of NCLB, we believe the following significant, constructive corrections are among those necessary to make the Act fair and effective. Among these concerns are: over-emphasizing standardized testing, narrowing curriculum and instruction to focus on test preparation rather than richer academic learning; over-identifying schools in need of improvement; using sanctions that do not help improve schools; inappropriately excluding low-scoring children in order to boost test results; and inadequate funding.

Overall, the law’s emphasis needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement.

RECOMMENDED CHANGES IN NCLB

Progress Measurement

  • Replace the law’s arbitrary proficiency targets with ambitious achievement targets based on rates of success actually achieved by the most effective public schools.
  • Allow states to measure progress by using students’ growth in achievement as well as their performance in relation to pre-determined levels of academic proficiency.
  • Ensure that states and school districts regularly report to the government and the public their progress in implementing systemic changes to enhance educator, family, and community capacity to improve student learning.
  • Provide a comprehensive picture of students’ and schools’ performance by moving from an overwhelming reliance on standardized tests to using multiple indicators of student achievement in addition to these tests.
  • Fund research and development of more effective accountability systems that better meet the goal of high academic achievement for all children

Assessments

  • Help states develop assessment systems that include district and school-based measures in order to provide better, more timely information about student learning.
  • Strengthen enforcement of NCLB provisions requiring that assessments must:

—Be aligned with state content and achievement standards;
—Be used for purposes for which they are valid and reliable;
—Be consistent with nationally recognized professional and technical standards;
—Be of adequate technical quality for each purpose required under the Act;
—Provide multiple, up-to-date measures of student performance including measures that assess higher order thinking skills and understanding; and
—Provide useful diagnostic information to improve teaching and learning.

  • Decrease the testing burden on states, schools and districts by allowing states to assess students annually in selected grades in elementary, middle schools, and high schools.

Building Capacity

  • Ensure changes in teacher and administrator preparation and continuing professional development that research evidence and experience indicate improve educational quality and student achievement.
  • Enhance state and local capacity to effectively implement the comprehensive changes required to increase the knowledge and skills of administrators, teachers, families, and communities to support high student achievement.

Sanctions

  • Ensure that improvement plans are allowed sufficient time to take hold before applying sanctions; sanctions should not be applied if they undermine existing effective reform efforts.
  • Replace sanctions that do not have a consistent record of success with interventions that enable schools to make changes that result in improved student achievement.

Funding

  • Raise authorized levels of NCLB funding to cover a substantial percentage of the costs that states and districts will incur to carry out these recommendations, and fully fund the law at those levels without reducing expenditures for other education programs.
  • Fully fund Title I to ensure that 100 percent of eligible children are served.

We the Undersigned, will work for the adoption of these recommendations as central structural changes needed to NCLB at the same time that we advance our individual organization’s proposals.  Jan 2, 2006

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Advancement Project

American Association of School Administrators

American Association of School Librarians, a division of American

Library Association

American Association of University Women

American Counseling Association

American Dance Therapy Association

American Federation of School Administrators

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

ASPIRA

Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development

Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO)

Center for Community Change

Center for Expansion of Language and Thinking

Children’s Defense Fund

Citizens for Effective Schools

Coalition of Essential Schools

Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

Communities for Quality Education

Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders

Council for Exceptional Children

Council for Learning Disabilities

Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform

Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children (DLD/CEC)

FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing

Forum for Education and Democracy

General Board of Church and Society, The United Methodist Church

International Reading Association

International Teaching Education Association

Learning Disabilities Association of America

League of United Latin American Citizens

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

National Alliance of Black School Educators

National Association for Bilingual Education

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese Americans

National Association of School Psychologists

National Association of Social Workers

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

National Council for the Social Studies

National Council of Churches

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of Teachers of English

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Education Association

National Indian Education Association

National Indian School Board Association

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

National Mental Health Association

National Rural Education Association

National School Boards Association

National Urban League

Native Hawaiian Education Association

People for the American Way

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rural School and Community Trust

Service Employees International Union

School Social Work Association of America

Social Action Committee of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Stand for Children

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries

Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church

Women of Reform Judaism

National School Boards Association contact on this Joint Statement:

Reggie Felton, federal relations director at 703-838-6782 or rfelton@nsba.org.