Educators at all levels are struggling to implement the landmark No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, according to the findings of a four-part study released Monday (Feb. 9) by The Civil Rights Project at Harvard. The reports look at the impact of this complex, dramatic change in federal education policy on each level of government – federal, state, and district – during the first year of implementation of the NCLB Act (2002-2003).
The reports claim that federal accountability rules have derailed state reforms and assessment strategies, that the requirements have no common meaning across
state lines, and that the sanctions fall especially hard on minority and integrated schools, asking for much less progress from affluent suburban schools. The market- and choice-oriented policies, which were imposed on schools “in need of improvement,” have consumed resources and local administrative time but have small impacts and are not being seriously evaluated, the reports assert.
“The reality for too many public educators is confusion and frustration as No Child Left Behind is leaving too many children . . . and teachers . . . behind,” says Gary Orfield, co-director of The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University and professor of education and social policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “I firmly believe, and this report supports, the time has come for local, state, and federal educators and officials to work together to sort out the pluses and minuses and adopt administrative and legislative remedies to save the good objectives of the program and remove the arbitrary and unworkable provisions [the study found].”
The four reports encompass six states and 11 school districts to approximate a representative national sample. The states and districts were chosen to reflect the diversity of the country and to examine with special care the impacts of the law on minority students and schools.