On Jan. 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law his education reform plan, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, changing the federal government’s role in K-12 education by asking schools to describe their success in terms of what each student accomplishes. Then in November, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige released final regulations for the NCLB Act, “Title I — Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Final Rule,” which covers Title I, accountability, parental options and teacher quality (view the regulations online at www.ed.gov/offices/'ESE/SASA/cepprogresp.html#reg).
Education reform is the comprehensive and prioritized change within the field of K-12 education that promotes the overall improvement of student performance and academic achievement. The NCLB Act targets four basic education reform principles based on President Bush’s priorities for America’s schools (www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/education):
1. Stronger accountability for results. The act redefines the federal role in K-12 education by requiring all states to set high standards of achievement and create a system of accountability to measure results, especially in reading and math.
2. Greater flexibility and local control. The act offers districts powerful tools to provide the best education to all children, especially those most in need, by cutting federal red tape; reducing the number of federal education programs; and creating larger, more flexible programs that place decision making at the local level.
3. Expanded options and choice for parents. The act empowers parents by providing unprecedented federal support that allows disadvantaged children who are trapped in low-performing or persistently dangerous schools to transfer to other public schools.
4. Emphasis on teaching methods that work. The act supports reading instruction based on research-based methods that work to ensure that every child in public schools reads at or above grade level by third grade. Also, it strengthens teacher quality for public schools by investing in training and retention of high-quality teachers.
Education Reform Resources:Official No Child Left Behind Web Sitewww.nclb.gov
The Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind Web site provides information and resources regarding the commitment that every child will learn and excel.ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluationhttp://ericae.net
ERIC provides balanced information and resources concerning educational assessment, evaluation and research methodology.Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory’s Assessment Programwww.nwrel.org/assessment
The NREL provides high-quality research, services and products for teachers and schools worldwide.McREL’s Compendium of Standards & Benchmarkswww.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks
The site features a searchable compilation of content standards for K-12 curriculum.National Institute for Literacywww.nifl.gov
This independent federal organization leads the national effort toward a fully literate nation in the 21st century.The National Center for Educational Accountabilitywww.measuretolearn.org
This collaborative effort improves learning through the effective use of school and student data.The Eisenhower National Clearinghousewww.enc.org
The site offers curriculum resources, professional development materials and products to improve K-12 mathematics and science teaching and learning.
Judith B. Rajala, M.A., president and founder of EduHound.com, is an independent education technology instructor and former K-12 educator. Visit www.eduhound.com or e-mail EduHoundExtra@thejournal.com.
This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.