Some Michigan lawmakers are concerned that the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act is requiring too much of schools, without giving them the resources to improve.
Members of the Michigan House and Senate Education Committees heard testimony Thursday from U.S. Education Undersecretary Gene Hickock.
Hickock says "No Child Left Behind" is relatively new, and states need to see what works and what doesn't.
Here in Michigan some democratic members of the committee say it doesn't work in its current form. "No Child Left Behind" requires schools to meet adequate yearly progress in math and reading. But legislators say if schools fail, they are labeled as failing, but not helped enough to improve.
Nearly a dozen states across the U.S. are considering forgoing federal education dollars so they don't have to comply with the act. The federal government spends more than $30 billion a year on education.
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No Child Left Behind
On Jan. 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This new law represents his education reform plan, and made many changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that was enacted in 1965.
The act contains the President's four basic education reform principles: stronger accountability for results, increased flexibility and local control, expanded options for parents, and an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.
Here is a description of the four basic education reform principles in No Child Left Behind:
Stronger Accountability for Results
States are responsible for having strong academic standards for what every child should know and learn in reading, math, and science for elementary, middle and high schools.
Beginning in the 2002-03 school year, schools must administer tests in each of three grade spans: grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12 in all schools. Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, tests must be administered every year in grades 3 through 8. Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, science achievement must also be tested.
- Results of these tests will show up in annual state and district report cards, so parents can measure their school's performance and their state's progress.
- Schools will be responsible for improving the academic performance of all students, and there will be real consequences for districts and schools that fail to make progress.
- Within 12 years, all students must perform at a proficient level under their state standards. But, states will set their own standards for each grade--so each state will say how well children should be reading at the end of third grade, for example.
Record Flexibility for States and Communities
The new law gives all 50 states and every local school district in America greater say in using the federal education dollars they receive every year.
- States will have more freedom to direct more of their federal education money. That means local people will have more say about which programs they think will help their students the most.
- No Child Left Behind combines and simplifies programs, so that schools don't have to cut through as much red tape to get and use federal funding.
Concentrating Resources on Proven Education Methods
No Child Left Behind will target education dollars to research-based programs that have been proven to help most children learn.
- In 2002, $900 million will be distributed to states for the President's Reading First plan.
- Federal dollars will be tied to programs that use scientifically proven ways of teaching children to read.
- Communities will benefit from a federally funded program called Early Reading First. This program will help develop language and reading skills for pre-school children, especially those from low-income families.
- Schools and teachers will get a boost from the more than $4 billion in 2002 that allows schools to promote teacher quality through training and recruitment.
More Choices for Parents
No Child Left Behind offers many new ways to help students, schools, and teachers. It also gives parents options for helping their children if they are enrolled in schools chronically identified as in need of improvement. In fact these new parental choices will be available starting in the 2002-03 school year for students already enrolled in schools that have been identified as in need of improvement under current law.
- Parents with a child enrolled in a school identified as in need of improvement will be able to transfer their child to a better performing public school or public charter school.
- For the first time, parents with children in a school identified as in need of improvement will be able to use federal education funds for what are called "supplemental education services." Those services include tutoring, after school services, and summer school programs.
- In 2002 approximately $200 million in federal funds could be available to state and local communities to help establish and fund charter schools. Parents interested in charter schools should check for information in their local school district or their state education agency. They can also check out the Department of Education website www.ed.gov for further information.
Source: http://www.nochildleftbehind.gov/next/overview/index.html (No Child Left Behind Web Site) contributed to this report