NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 2, 2008

It looks like Arizona is set to opt out of No Child Left Behind.  Arizonans need transparency and accountability in public schooling, but they do not need NCLB, says Matthew Ladner, vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

  • Chief among the flaws of NCLB is the fact that it creates an entirely perverse incentive for states to lower their academic standards in order to meet a federal goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014.
  • A recent University of California Berkley study that found 10 of 12 states studied had lowered the standards for their state accountability tests.
  • States have engaged in a "race to the bottom," and sadly, Arizona is one of the leaders.

Arizona parents and taxpayers need reliable testing data, and currently, NCLB hinders that vital goal, says Ladner.

If Arizona withdraws from NCLB, it must get its own house in order on testing and accountability.  The state lowered the passing threshold on Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS), and its version of the TerraNova exam is completely unreliable.  This is Arizona's mess, and Arizona must clean it up regardless of what happens in Washington, says Ladner.

Source: Matthew Ladner, "Opting Out of No Child Left Behind; Now Arizona must get its own house in order," Goldwater Institute, March 31, 2008.


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