NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Struggle to Comply with "No Child Left Behind"

January 29, 2003

One year after President Bush signed the "No Child Left Behind" education bill into law, states are struggling to comply with its provisions. The independent Education Commission of the States (ECS) reports many states still have much work to do.

The central goal of the law is a 12-year plan to improve basic skills of the nation's 47 million public school children by improving teacher quality and measuring progress through ambitious testing programs.

  • Only 12 states are on track to comply with even half of the 40 federal requirements, the ECS reports -- although the U.S. Department of Education contends that the states are probably further along than the ECS report suggests.
  • Some 39 states are developing accountability systems -- but fewer than half are even close to figuring out how to assess or improve children's test scores.
  • Forty states are working to identify schools with consistently poor test scores, where students must be offered tutoring or transportation to better public schools; 28 states have a list of approved tutors, and 20 are actually offering tutoring.
  • Only 25 states are ready to offer transfers -- which were to have begun last fall in the 48 states with under performing schools -- and only five states have developed policies by which students in "persistently dangerous schools" can transfer.

Ten states have defined what "highly qualified teachers" are -- but only eight are close to having them in their classrooms.

As they face shrinking state budgets, state lawmakers and education officials are complaining that the federal government is saddling schools with dozens of new requirements without providing enough extra money to get the job done.

Source: Greg Toppo, "States Strain to Keep Up With 'No Child Left Behind," USA Today, January 29, 2003.

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