Analyzing NCLB

Chester Finn and Rick Hess have published a book, Leaving No Child Behind?, and NCLB analysis in Public Interest and Phi Delta Kappan. I can’t get any of this online, but here’s a response by Eduwonk:.

Finn and Hess note that NCLB abandoned “time honored” school choice principles and despite many thoughtful recommendations for improvement, skepticism about whether public institutions can get the job done implicitly pervades much of the analysis. The foundational dispute between right and left in education boils down to whether the leverage needed to improve public education comes down to allowing clients to leave or whether it can be publicly applied through standards, more money, or whatever.

Hess and Finn want to get rid of “many of NCLBÍs rules for ‘subgroup’ accountability, Eduwonk writes. The alternative, a “value-added” accountability model, couldn’t be implemented for many years by most states.

Hess and Finn also chide NCLB for being out of touch with basic political and policy realities while they, apparently without irony, propose national content standards as one way out of the current thicket.

National content standards are very, very controversial.

NCLB’s defenders are afraid that tinkering with the law will mean diluting its power to force change for kids at the bottom. Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, National Alliance of Black School Educators, Just for the Kids, National Center for Educational Accountability, the Education Trust and the Business Roundtable have formed the Achievement Alliance to defend NCLB. The founding statement says:

The Achievement Alliance acknowledges that problems with implementation of No Child Left Behind exist. But those problems do not overshadow the fact that NCLB represents the best hope the nation has for raising the academic achievement of all children, particularly children from poor families, children of color, children learning English and children with disabilities. And the fact is that NCLB is working. State after state is reporting that in the last two years overall student achievement has inched up and achievement gaps have begun to close.

If only the web site was readable without requiring Flash. I’ve been bugging them to fix it.

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