State Educators Receive Failing Marks From Feds
> 7/26/2006 10:40:35 AM

Not one state fulfilled all requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act in the 2005-6 academic year, and several may begin to lose federal funding if they do not quickly comply. The ultimate goal of the program, which establishes nationwide standards in areas like teacher quality and testing, is to improve public schools or offer alternatives to qualified students. The program's specifics, however, have not been enforced as rigidly as they should be, according to education secretary Margaret Spellings. Formerly criticized for her leniency in enforcement, Spellings's methods have taken a notable turn since the Education Department reported that no states met the criteria for teacher qualifications and that only ten had satisfactory standardized testing practices. A recent New York Times article reports that:

In the past few weeks, Ms. Spellings has flatly rejected as inadequate the testing systems in Maine and Nebraska. She has also said that nine states are so far behind in providing highly qualified teachers that they may face sanctions, and she has accused California of failing to provide federally required alternatives to troubled schools. California could be fined as much as $4.25 million.

Such a sum seems paltry compared to the money needed to maintain school quality in a state as large as California, but it is exponentially higher than any previously leveed penalties. One element of concern raised by The Alliance for School Choice, an organization advocating private and charter schools, is the fact that transfer rates for public school students are extremely low. Of those who qualified to attend alternative schools in California, only one percent actually transferred.

One finds near-consensus regarding the program's perceived failings: it is disorganized and inadequately funded. Though its intentions are noble, the very scope and ambition of NCLB make full implementation of its policies almost impossible without significantly greater amounts of money and oversight on both state and federal levels. So far, its real-world statistics are less than encouraging, and the price for underperformance will be paid by students throughout the country.

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