A national study contends the Bush administration's signature education policy achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act, is a failure.
The study released Tuesday by Harvard University's Civil Rights Project also concludes the U.S. Department of Education has negotiated individually with states, nullifying any uniform standard of accountability intended by the 2001 law.
The administration went from strict interpretation and enforcement of the controversial law in its first two years to state-by-state policy changes by 2005, so that today, no two states are subject to the same requirements, according to the study. It highlights Illinois and five other states.
Students can take tests twice
NCLB sets forth tough accountability provisions requiring all students to meet the same achievement goals, with sanctions for failing schools. But myriad state waivers and amendments have cut the number of schools and districts identified as needing improvement, while giving states too much flexibility in how to determine progress and goals for students who are learning disabled and have limited English proficiency, the study says.
"These changes reflect a political strategy by the administration to respond to the growing state opposition to the law by providing relief from some of the law's provisions. But they are also a concession by [Education Department] officials that NCLB is not working" and is inconsistent, according to the study, "The Unraveling of No Child Left Behind: How Negotiated Changes Transform the Law."
Changes obtained by individual states in the past two years include loosening the definition of a failing school; establishing separate graduation and attendance rate goals for learning disabled and limited English proficient students; and allowing students to take NCLB assessment tests multiple times, according to the study.
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter