Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Parents, educators split on what to do with No Child Left Behind

Despite many criticisms, parents and educators would rather mend than end the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires all children to be academically "proficient" by 2014. The public at large also expressed interest in national education standards, according to a survey released Tuesday.

New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service, which commissioned the poll of parents, teachers, administrators and others, found that many surveyed knew few details about No Child Left Behind or harbored misconceptions. Public support rises when the law is explained, concluded pollsters Peter D. Hart, a Democrat, and David Winston, a Republican.

Most teachers (77%) and administrators (63%) hold a "staunchly negative" view of the law, though only a small percentage would dump it, results show.

Critics questioned the survey's description of the law: "The No Child Left Behind Act provides federal funds for school districts with poor children in order to close achievement gaps. It also requires states to set standards for education and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met by all students. In addition, No Child Left Behind provides funding to help teachers become highly qualified. It also provides additional funding and prescribes consequences to schools that fail to achieve academic targets set by their state."

This wording overlooks the negative ramifications of an underfunded "lock-step focus on a test-and-punish regime," said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the Massachusetts-based FairTest coalition, which advocates sweeping changes. "There is not a single credible education measurement expert in the country who believes the 2014 deadline for all children being proficient is realistic," he added.

This from the Los Angeles Times.

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