Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Students, Parents & Community Leaders Speak Out on No Child Left Behind Act

Public Hearings Across the Country Reveal Confusion, Concern, and Anger OverImplementation of NCLB

Implementation of NCLB
WASHINGTON, May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Public concern over implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is rising, according to a new report issued today by Public Education Network. Open to the Public: The Public Speaks out on No Child Left Behind, identifies specific concerns voiced by more than 1500 parents, students, taxpayers, and community leaders at open public hearings from September to January of this year. The hearings were designed to gain grassroots and civic input on the law from groups often left out of the policy debate, yet profoundly impacted by its implementation.

Throughout the hearings, the public rejected a single test as an accurate measure of school improvement. Parents and community leaders indicated that discrepancies between state and federal measures of school progress have created a deep mistrust of high-stakes tests and other NCLB indicators as accurate assessments of school performance. And, they believe that accountability must be expanded to include additional measures of school and student progress, developed with the input of local educators, parents, and the community.

Americans are also angered by the labeling of schools as "in need of improvement" because they say that this label erodes public support for these schools. Rather than increasing the public's sense of responsibility for demanding additional support and resources, 'in need of improvement' labels are perceived as punitive and can result in student, teacher, and community abandonment of the very schools most in need of support.

Feedback from students revealed that they experience enormous pressure passed along from teachers and administrators worried about school performance. NCLB testing places excessive stress on students, particularly English language learners and special education students, causing some to drop out. Students were concerned they did not have the support and resources they needed to meet the requirements of the law.

The public also recommended the following changes to the law and its implementation including:

* Accountability that truly supports measurable student achievement
and gives credit for significant progress made.

* Improved academic resources for students, including increased quality
and availability of supplemental educational services.

* An expanded definition of "highly qualified teachers" to include
training on parent and community involvement as well as on cultural

* Enforced parent involvement provisions so parents can participate in
meaningful ways and administration officials can more effectively engage

It's out there. I wonder if anyone is listening?


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