Paul  Weyrich

Since Congress enacted No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in January 2002 at the behest of President George W. Bush there has been no shortage of criticism from both the right and the left. Much of this has been well-deserved, as the program created a massive new network of bureaucracy without producing significant results. In fact, one could argue that the only real positive consequence of NCLB was that it brought attention to the pitiful state of American education. Otherwise it left much to be desired.

Aware of some of the inadequacies of the program, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced new proposed regulations to "strengthen and clarify No Child Left Behind." The regulations address several problems with the program. They would: demand school systems be accountable for results and transparent in their reporting to parents and the public by posting student test scores on national reading and math tests alongside state test scores, require that States publish data from the Nation's Report Card alongside data from their own tests for students (so that they do not exclude too many scores from minority students), allow schools to use multiple types of questions and multiple assessments within a subject area to measure progress (as opposed to the current emphasis on a single test in each area), provide parents with timely information about tutoring options available to help students improve, and ensure the inclusion of all sub-groups of students (generally those from impoverished backgrounds and those in specific minority groups) in each State's accountability system.

In addition, Secretary Spellings proposed the creation of a new National Technical Advisory Council, "made up of experts in the fields of education standards, accountability systems, statistics and psychometrics," to advise the Department of Education on "highly complex and technical issues and ensuring state standards and assessments are of the highest technical quality."

Among the new proposals the one which has garnered the most attention would establish a uniform measurement of graduation and dropout by 2013 among all 50 States to measure more accurately how many high-school freshmen graduate in four years. Currently States calculate graduation rates by their own standards, and many have been criticized for understating, through rather disingenuous measurements, the number of students who do not receive a diploma.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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