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Reauthorization 101: The Basics

Reauthorization 101

NCLB… ESEA… Which is it?


NCLB, the No Child Left Behind Act, is the eighth and most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the landmark federal law that was first passed in 1965. This law, which includes such basic programs as Title I, is reviewed and rewritten every five years.

NCLB/ESEA -- What's next?


NCLB, signed into law in January 2002, is now before Congress for renewal. As part of the renewal process, called "reauthorization," Congress will review and revise the law.

Given the flaws in the law and the many problems, why doesn't NEA call for repeal of NCLB?


The underlying legislation, the ESEA, provides basic and needed services and programs including Title I, after school programs, teacher quality initiatives, and many more. NCLB has retained these programs which bene?t our neediest students, and it includes some important additions, such as strengthened rights of homeless children to attend their local public school. NEA has long supported these federal programs and would not want to risk having them repealed.

Shouldn't we at least support a repeal of the excessive NCLB testing provisions?


Testing is an important part of the teaching process. NEA supports tests that diagnose problems and guide instruction, but testing under NCLB is not being used that way. NEA opposes the excessive testing under NCLB and the lack of commonsense flexibility for assessing students with disabilities and students who are English language learners. NEA also opposes these high-stakes tests because the results are used inappropriately to identify schools "in need of improvement." NEA wants fundamental changes made to the testing provisions of NCLB.

What is NEA's position on NCLB/ESEA reauthorization?


NEA strongly supports the stated goals of the law -- to raise student learning, close achievement gaps, and ensure that every child is taught by a highly qualified, caring teacher. But, simply put, the law is not working. After five years' experience under the law, NEA members, America's frontline educators, have identified many flaws, problems, and student needs that must be addressed. To make NCLB work for students, we need changes in its accountability, testing, and teacher quality provisions. NEA's goal is to improve the law by substantially correcting its flaws and adding positive provisions.

Why does NEA see NCLB/ESEA reauthorization as an opportunity?


Reauthorization also opens the door to a broad national discussion on education, not only about the changes and improvements that must be made to ESEA but also about how to transform education so that every child can attend a great public school.