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January 26, 2004, Extra Credit
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January 26, 2004
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No Child Left Behind is 'Critically Important'

The following column by Dr. George Tombaugh, superintendent of Westerville City Schools in Westerville, Ohio, appeared in last week's edition of This Week in Westerville:

No Child Left Behind is 'Critically Important'

Two years ago, President Bush and the American Congress enacted landmark education reform through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that all our children learn the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in school and in life.

No Child Left Behind is based on four principles:

  • Accountability for results through academic standards and measuring student learning (assessments).
  • Local control and flexibility.
  • Information about what is to be learned (academic standards) and assessment results by schools and districts and new options for parents.
  • Scientifically proven teaching methods and programs.
As an educator for more than 30 years, I have seen the positive influence of No Child Left Behind within Ohio and our local school district. Education Week has recently recognized the state of Ohio as one of eight states to earn a grade of A for its academic standards and accountability system.

Yearly report cards disaggregate results by race, gender, socio-economic status, special education and English Second Language and provide valuable information to parents and the community. These data spotlight achievement gaps and enable principals and teachers to focus on what curriculum areas need improvement.

NCLB provides flexibility and assures that critical educational decisions are still made at the local level. These decisions include the curriculum and when and how it is taught.

I have observed that external accountability also is building internal accountability, i.e., educators are accepting responsibility for student learning, reaching consensus regarding academic expectations, discussing student work and sharing successful instructional strategies.

President Bush is on the right track through additional new federal money in support of his No. 1 domestic issue. The proposed budget for NCLB for fiscal year 2005 will provide a 48-percent increase for elementary and secondary education since fiscal year 2001. It includes an additional:

  • $1-billion in Title I funding for disadvantaged students, a total representing a 52-percent increase since FY 2001.
  • $138-million for reading programs, a total that is more than four times the amount spent in FY 2001.
  • $1-billion for special education programs, an increase of 75 percent since FY 2001.
In Westerville, our schools have just received an additional $261,000 for literacy intervention services for grades one through four during the next six months.

In the future, additional federal funds will be limited. However, as professional educators, we cannot simply make an excuse by saying, "Just give us more money." It is our responsibility to realize that to further improve results in education, it will be necessary to:

  • Believe and value that all students will learn at a high level.
  • Focus resources on our values.
  • Focus on continuous personal growth through improving instructional practice.
No Child Left Behind is critically important to the future of our nation, our states and our communities, because improving the quality of education is building the America of tomorrow.

What we are doing in our schools today is an investment that will reap benefits for years to come.

Today, across our country, educators are improving learning for all students so that every child has the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in school and enter the workforce well-prepared for the demands in a competitive global economy.

At this time, the No Child Left Behind Act has only been in effect for two years. Expecting improved results is a good thing. The journey has only just begun on this exciting road. The destination is going to be worth the journey.

This column is available online.

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013