Making Sense of NCLB


For a careful observer of trends in education, key elements of the No Child Left Behind Act were probably not an enormous surprise. At the time of the law's initial passage, the standards-based movement had been underway for a decade, despite the heat around "national standards," especially in social studies and reading. An increasing number of states had adopted high-stakes testing, and in states where there was a history of such testing, it was used for additional purposes such as a gate for promotion to the next grade. Accountability systems made their appearance in many states, and serious sanctions were contemplated for failure to improve. Charter schools moved onto the scene, and whether they were viewed as a voucher Trojan horse or an alternative for creatively meeting all students' needs, for many, they made sense as an option to failing schools. Finally, George W. Bush, Governor of Texas, ran as the "education candidate" for president, on a platform supported partially by the success in Texas of high standards measured by high-stakes tests, attached to a rigorous accountability system.

What was a surprise to many, however, was the bipartisan nature of support for NCLB, as well as the speed with which states and local school districts were expected to implement these changes. "Making Sense of NCLB," this special issue of T.H.E. Journal, seeks to help educators meet the demands of the breathtaking changes that, in one shape or form, we have all asked for from schools.

This is the first in a series of special issues that will look at NCLB, which is consistent with T.H.E. Journal 's commitment to cast light upon horizons in education, especially as they are related to technology. Future special issues will continue to explicate the law, while shifting the focus to states, districts, schools and campuses as they implement and live under the provisions of the act. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Ph.D.
Advisory Editor

Geoffrey H. Fletcher ([email protected]) is Executive Director of T.H.E. Institute. He also was a resident of Texas for 20 years, serving as a technology coordinator at LaPorte ISD and in various technology-related positions in the Texas Education Agency, including associate commissioner with responsibility for curriculum, assessment, textbooks, technology and professional development.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.