NCLB Stumbling and Faltering
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Feature headline
Volume III, Number 2, February, 2005

NCLB is Stumbling and Faltering
as Bipartisan Opposition and Criticism Mounts


A report issued in February by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers - The National Conference of State Legislators - was strongly critical of the NCLB law and the way it is hitting our schools and our children.

Among other things, the report claims the Federal interference with state educational decisions violates the Constitution.

The full text of the original report can be downloaded at

By Jamie McKenzie
(about author)

© 2005, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved

NCLB, Helter-Skelter, is finally receiving the criticism and negative attention it deserves as an increasing number of lawmakers and educators are speaking out about its weaknesses and the damage resulting from its flaws.

Interference with State Innovation

The panel found that the approach of the Department of Education raised serious Constitutional issues . . .
. . . with passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government incorporated many of the state reforms into a single national policy, thereby significantly expanding the federal role in the administration of elementary education. But this assertion of federal authority into an area historically reserved to the states has had the effect of curtailing additional state innovations and undermining many that had occurred during the past three decades.
Page vi

It is important to note that the Administration is considering extending the reach of NCLB to the nation's high schools, pushing the interference to new levels.

Adequate Yearly Progress

The panel criticized the specific rules and specifications meant to apply pressure upon schools for change. While applauding the notion of accountability, they saw AYP as flawed.
The adequate yearly progress provisions are overly prescriptive and rigid.
Page vii

AYP for Students with Disabilities and Limited English Proficiency

The panel questioned the fairness and sense of lumping these students with other students for testing as if their challenges were not real.
NCLB requires students with disabilities to be tested by grade level, while IDEA mandates that students be taught according to ability. The Task Force identified several other concerns related to NCLB’s students with disabilities provisions. One is its requirement that all students with disabilities be proficient by school year 2013-14. This is a laudable but unrealistic goal, which cannot be realized because it removes students from the special education subgroup when they reach the standard for their grade level. Another concern is that NCLB’s definition of “highly qualified” special education teachers conflicts with state certification practices.
Page viii

The panel also found problems with the way NCLB defines highly qualified teachers and questioned whether the increases in funding came close to paying the costs of implementing the law's requirements.

© 2005, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved. This article may be e-mailed to individuals by individuals, but all other duplication, distribution, publication and use is prohibited without first receiving explicit permission. Contact for information.