NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Watering Down the "No Child Left Behind" Law

October 15, 2002

Federal, state and local officials are taking steps to weaken certain elements of the No Child Left Behind law passed less than a year ago, observers say.

The federal law demands that schools put a "highly qualified" teacher in every classroom by 2006, test students annually in grades three through eight for progress in reading and math and eliminate disparities in achievement among whites, blacks and Hispanics by 2014.

  • The U.S. Department of Education has drafted regulations that would allow teachers who have enrolled in fast-track training courses to be classified as "highly qualified."
  • Officials in Connecticut, Colorado, Michigan and elsewhere are revisiting their standards for academic proficiency -- concerned that existing benchmarks may be too high for poor, minority and special education students to reach over the next 12 years.
  • Citing crowding, school districts across the country have largely avoided offering children in chronically failing schools the option of transferring to a better public school.
  • A provision that requires principals to send a letter alerting parents if their children's teachers are not "highly qualified" after four weeks on the job is, in many places, being put off or interpreted as applying only to very narrow situations.

State and local officials claim they have received scant guidance from the Education Department about the new law.

Source: Diana Jean Schemo, "Law Overhauling School Standards May Be Weakened," New York Times, October 15, 2002.


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