No Child Left Behind (NCLB) undoubtedly increased the federal footprint in education. As Congress debates how to rewrite the law, a new analysis from Bellwether Education Partners couldn’t be timelier.
The report starts with a look at the history of federal involvement in K–12 education and how NCLB tilted the balance of power toward Uncle Sam. Although NCLB started as a bipartisan bill with broad support, critics multiplied as the deadline for universal proficiency approached, interventions for low-performing schools mounted, and conditional waivers from the law were granted by the Department of Education. Among its shortfalls, NCLB included “over-prescriptive” provisions that mandate how a state education system should be run and a misguided one-size-fits-all approach.
But the law wasn’t all bad. Evidence suggests that NCLB’s accountability measures were effective in improving schools and student performance. These improvements were particularly evident among black and Hispanic students. The authors of this report applaud a requirement that states break down testing data into disadvantaged subgroups, thereby shining a light on students who are most at risk.
So how can policymakers keep the good (transparency and accountability) while ditching the bad (micromanagement)? The Bellwether analysts turn to the charter concept and argue...