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No Child Left Behind? The Politics and Practice of School Accountability

Elaine Kamarck. Charts of the Week: Jobs Fred Dews. As a long list of riders on unrelated issues like gun control bogged down floor debate, both sides decided to take their chances on the imminent presidential election. Thus, for the first time in its history, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was not reauthorized on time.

Instead, the old law was simply rolled over for an additional year.

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Surprisingly, in a way it was. In Texas governor George W. However, Bush also envisioned a strong national role in education policy. This put him at odds with Republicans who cared mainly about keeping the national government out of local schools. In fact, Bush had to lobby to eliminate language calling for the abolition of the Department of Education from the Republican platform. In July , for example, a Pew Research Center poll found that by a margin of 52 to 29 percent, voters trusted Democrats to do a better job on education.

However, education reform was a major issue in Texas, and Bush realized its potential for a Republican presidential hopeful. On the campaign trail he touted steadily improving TAAS scores, especially among black and Latino students. Along with Republican leaders—Boehner, Gregg, Sen. Evan Bayh, Rep.

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So was Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. Warned that pushing hard on private school vouchers would end that prospect, Bush gave his reassurances: vouchers were not a make-or-break issue. It called for the annual testing of students in grades and the release of state and school report cards showing the performance of students disaggregated by ethnic and economic subgroups. States would be required to participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress NAEP each year as a double check on the results from state assessments, and schools receiving Title I compensatory-education funds would be required to show that disadvantaged students were making adequate yearly progress.


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The blueprint, in short, borrowed liberally from several competing proposals made in the waning years of the Clinton administration. What is called plagiarism in academia wins political points in Congress; the Bush proposals were well received on Capitol Hill. In Texas, Governor Bush had found success in producing broad statements of principle instead of legislative drafts. Perhaps remembering the health-care debate—when majority Democrats insisted that the Clintons produce a complete bill, then sniped at its fine print until it sank—Republicans did not demand more from Bush.

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The administration had thus set itself up to claim credit at the end of the process while Congress squabbled over the specifics. But as the stalemate in the previous Congress made clear, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would require building bipartisan coalitions; after all, the present Congress was even more closely divided. Meanwhile, he also cultivated the New Democrats, using those discussions to lure Kennedy to the table. While Kennedy had been left out of the Austin summit in December, the senior senator was a consummate dealmaker, expert in the issues and perturbed by the prospect of a major bill in his bailiwick moving forward without him.

The result was a three-way coalition among conservative Republicans, New Democrats, and the Democratic regulars. As it stood, the Senate language required annual progress by each individual subgroup of students in such a way that all would become proficient within ten years. But states were worried that too many schools would be identified as failing—an expensive, and embarrassing, label.

Not everyone agreed that these charges were accurate. Whatever their validity, though, they had clear political utility. The governors and some committee members leaped at the chance to gut the disaggregation and testing requirements of the bill. However, progress would be judged over a three-year period and the scores of the lowest achieving students would be weighted more heavily, giving schools credit for closing the achievement gap.

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The new formula was attacked as unworkable by states and unfair by civil rights groups. In the meantime, the challenge was to hold on to the majority Democrats who hoped to boost funding. For example, the late Paul Wellstone, a Democrat from Minnesota, failed in his attempt to defer the new annual testing requirements unless funding for compensatory education was tripled; Kennedy, Lieberman, and Bayh all voted against it. A small voucher pilot program was also defeated, , with 11 Republicans in the negative.

Finally, on June 14, the bill was resoundingly approved, Like Gregg, John Boehner, the new chairman of the House Education and the Workforce committee, was an unlikely convert to an increased federal role in education, having previously urged elimination of the Department of Education.


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  4. That is, he knew there were 30 to 40 House Republicans who would never support the sort of testing regime Bush had promised, especially without vouchers. Given the slim Republican majority in the House, the need for Democratic votes was simple fact. And for Democrats to support annual testing, the Republicans would need to give ground on vouchers and block grants.

    The first committee roll call stripped vouchers from the draft; markup then had to be suspended so that Boehner, with Kress, could hold a closed-door meeting to mollify committee conservatives, promising a floor vote. Boehner had achieved bipartisanship, as promised—the final committee vote was —but with a rather Democratic flavor. The floor debate put those dueling definitions on display. A Modern Engineer — Edinburgh, Midlothian. Screen music and the question of originality - Miguel Mera — London, Islington. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom.

    Paul Thomas , Furman University. Education policy has focussed on testing standards to enforce accountability. Testing pressures have led to corrupt practices In addition, NCLB has created several negative consequences. NCLB fails to close the achievement gap Most important of all, NCLB has failed its most ambitious goals, including closing the achievement gap and ushering in evidence-based policy. Based at UCLA and founded to deepen understanding of racial and ethnic groups in the United States, the Civil Rights Project and FairTest, a program that works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing, after a careful analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress NAEP data , reveal that the achievement gap, which appeared to be closing before these accountability measures, has become stagnant over the last two decades: NAEP data shows the achievement gap between black and white school students has become stagnant over the last two decades.

    Department of Education. You might also like President George H. Bush in A Trump administration plan to merge the Labor and Education departments focuses on workforce needs. A police officer portrays an active shooter with an assault rifle loaded with dummy rounds.