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Approaching the fifth anniversary of its enactment and up for congressional reauthorization next year, the No Child Left Behind act continues to be a favorite punching bag for many of the country's largest educational organizations.
All claim to have no problems with NCLB's intention, but beyond that they tear it apart, arguing that it isn't as effective as it should be in part because of inadequate funding and unrealistic or unworkable requirements.
Most educational groups suggest improvements, usually focused on their own particular interests.
What if every student in a district had an Individual Education Plan, the document that guides each special education student's years in school. What if there was something-call it an Individual Academic Plan-that outlined in detail what each student knows, how he or she learns, the student's goals and what the school will do to help him or her achieve those goals? What if public education was that personalized for everyone?
I continue to be astounded at the resiliency of school districts throughout the U.S., as they strive to increase access to technology for students and teachers in the face of tight budgets. Nearly every day I encounter yet another district initiating or expanding computer access, such as through one-to-one initiatives. But with the current student/computer ratio in the U.S. hovering around 4:1, at any given time 75 percent of our students still lack access to computers.
Can studying a second language in elementary school boost student achievement in other academic areas? Numerous studies suggest that this may be the case. Yet even though NCLB identifies foreign language as a core subject, only about a fourth of U.S. public elementary schools report teaching foreign languages, and most of these schools provide only introductory courses. Fewer than half of all U.S. high school students are studying a foreign language. Meanwhile, administration of a National Assessment for Educational Progress test for foreign language has been put on hold.