From the Capital to the Classroom: Year Three of the No Child Left Behind Act

Michael Connolly

Center on Education Policy
March 2005

Underscoring the findings of the report reviewed above, this third annual CEP report on NCLB implementation finds that the law has significantly raised student test scores, especially in lower-achieving populations. It's done this by bringing a "greater sense of urgency to state and local efforts to raise student achievement," which has forced needed attention on struggling students and improved 6,000 of the nation's worst schools. The report is based on a survey of education officials in 49 states and 314 school districts, plus detailed case studies in 36 districts - so a slight bias might be present from those feeling NCLB's hammer. But other CEP recommendations mirror oft-voiced state concerns, such as the call for more funding. The report also notes that while 15 percent of districts must now offer students the choice to transfer to another public school, only 1 percent of students have done so. This gives CEP a chance to ride one of its favorite policy hobbyhorses and assert that the choice option is irreparably broken. Instead, of course, it could and should be fixed via essential reforms in NCLB itself. Otherwise, this report offers a decent assessment of NCLB to date. You can read it on the web at http://www.ctredpol.org/pubs/nclby2/.