Publications

Publications
After more than ten years under NCLB, that law’s legacy continues to be fiercely contested. This analysis of NAEP scores—focusing on Texas and on the entire nation—by former NCES commissioner Mark Schneider finds that solid gains in math achievement coincided with the advent of "consequential accountability," first in the trailblazing Lone Star State and a few other pioneer states, then across the land with the implementation of NCLB. But Schneider warns that the recent plateau in Texas math scores may foreshadow a coming stagnation in the country’s performance. Has the testing-and-accountability movement as we know it run out of steam? How else might we rekindle our nation’s education progress?
Political leaders hope to act soon to renew and fix the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind). In this important paper, Thomas B. Fordham Institute President Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Executive Vice President Michael J. Petrilli identify 10 big issues that must be resolved in order to get a bill across the finish line, and explore the major options under consideration for each one. Should states be required to adopt academic standards tied to college and career readiness? Should the new law provide greater flexibility to states and districts? These are just a few of the areas discussed. Finn and Petrilli also present their own bold yet "reform realist" solutions for ESEA. Read on to learn more.
In this study of the No Child Left Behind Act system and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) rules for 28 states, we selected 36 real schools that vary by size, achievement, diversity, etc. and determined which ones would or would not make AYP when evaluated under each state's accountability rules. If a school that made AYP in Washington were relocated to Ohio, would it still make AYP?
In this exciting, unique and challenging time, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute wants to congratulate President-Elect Obama and other new federal leaders. The federal government has a key role to play in creating a world-class education system in America but it's challenging to get that role right. This letter provides some guidance. Fordham experts review the current education policy landscape and its main players and offer their view of the ideal K-12 federal role. They also address the ten big policy battles looming on the horizon. The hope is that the letter will provide critical advice, insights and ideas for the new federal education leaders who are about to take on a big job.
Too Good to Last: The True Story of Reading First is an in-depth and alarming study of Reading First's betrayal. Under the leadership of White House domestic policy chief Margaret Spellings and with support from Congress, Reading First was to provide funding to primary-reading programs that were based on scientific research. Backlash and brouhaha followed. Aggrieved whole-language program proprietors complained bitterly that their wares couldn't be purchased with Reading First funds. Then the administration turned its back on Reading First, allowing the program to be gutted and starved of funding.
NCLB allows each state to define proficiency as it sees fit and design its own tests. This study compares state tests to benchmarks laid out by the Northwest Evaluation Association to evaluate proficiency cut scores for assessments in twenty-six states. The findings suggest that the tests states use to measure academic progress and student proficiency under NCLB are creating a false impression of success, especially in reading and especially in the early grades.
January 8, 2007, was the fifth birthday of the No Child Left Behind Act. This isn't just another milestone to be celebrated (or mourned). The law is now due for an update from Congress. But will NCLB be reauthorized on schedule? What changes are likely? No one knows for sure, but the ubiquitous 'Washington insiders' might be in a better position than others to cast prognostications. While not a 'representative sample' of thousands, their inside knowledge adds valuable insight.
Education policy leaders from across the political spectrum flesh out and evaluate several forms that national standards and testing could take.
Just one month after President Bush signed the politics-governance Act into law, a provocative set of expert papers commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation explores the legislation's key features: it's testing and accountability provisions. The papers identify the questions left unresolved by Congress and the many hurdles facing the U.S. Education Department and states, districts, and schools as they try to make this ambitious law a reality. The papers also offer suggestions for clearing those hurdles.
President Bush campaigned on a strong education-reform platform, promising the American people that for the first time in a long time, commonsense?not special interest groups?would dictate federal education policy. Just before he entered the Oval Office, we handed him a briefing book on steps he could take to help transform the K-12 education system. In this "Memorandum to the President-Elect and the 107th Congress," we explained how the federal government has wasted billions of dollars on ineffective programs and offered suggestions for making continued federal funding matter.