National Education Technology Plan 2004
The Impact of No Child Left Behind
|"We cannot assume that our schools will naturally drift toward using technology effectively. We must commit ourselves to staying the course and making the changes necessary to reach our goals of educating every child. These are ambitious goals, but they are goals worthy of a great nation such as ours. Together, we can use technology to ensure that no child is left behind."|
– President George W. Bush
No Child Left Behind, signed into law by President Behind Bush in January 2002, is already having a major impact on public education. Its ambitious goals, to end the achievement gap between rich and poor and white and minority students and improve the academic performance of all students by 2014, are requiring states and school districts across the country to reexamine their standards, set targets for improvement, introduce rigorous testing, and give options to parents.
Although only three years old, NCLB is producing measurable results. Many states have reported significant gains in meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for the 2003-2004 school year, according to data compiled by the Education Trust and the National Alliance of Black School Educators.51 In nine states – North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Alaska, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia and California – the proportion of schools making AYP increased by at least 10 percentage points. Maryland led the nation with 86 percent of its public schools making AYP in reading and math scores – up 19 percent from the 2002-2003 school year.
While boosting the performance of all students, schools are reporting notably sharp gains for poor and minority children, particularly in the elementary grades.52 For example, in Illinois from 2001 to 2004 the proportion of Latino fifth graders achieving proficiency on state math assessments increased dramatically to 76 percent from 41 percent three years earlier – and the gap with white students narrowed to 16 percentage points from the previous 35 point difference.
|"Across America, school teachers did something this year that many of them didn't expect to do. They raised their students' math and reading scores. Although some states, such as Oregon and Nevada, saw little change or a drop in their scores, overall more states and school districts saw test results improve rather than decline. In Florida, 10 percent more fourth-graders got satisfactory marks on the state's math test than did so last year. In Arkansas, 14 percent more sixth-graders performed at grade level on reading and writing tests. In Chicago, the percentage of third- and fifth-graders passing tests rose by double digits. In a majority of the states that have released results under No Child Left Behind, fewer schools are failing to meet the law's goals. And because teachers are the most important factor in student achievement, they deserve at least some credit for that."|
– National Journal (9/11/04)
In addition to the many indicators of tangible progress, the law is stimulating lively debate over how to re-think and redesign educational models to raise standards, retrain educators, reapportion budgets, exploit new technologies and provide students with the technological and individual support they need. As the Education Commission of the States (ECS) has noted, a number of states do not yet have the technology infrastructure they need.53 But progress is being made.
The goals have been set and the work is underway. As ECS concludes in its 2004 Report to the Nation, "To many, NCLB embodies the nation's recognition of and commitment to two imperatives, one moral and the other economic; namely, that education is a civil right, and that a high-quality, high-performing education system is vital to maintaining America's competitiveness in the world economy."54 It is a challenge that America can – and must – meet.