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Joint Organizational Statement on 'No Child Left Behind' Act

Submitted to Congress on Oct. 21, 2004
Signers updated April, 2008

The undersigned education, civil rights, children's, disability, labor, religious, and citizens' organizations are committed to the No Child Left Behind Act's objectives of strong academic achievement for all children and closing the achievement gap. We believe that the federal government has a critical role to play in attaining these goals. We endorse the use of an accountability system that helps ensure all children, including children of color, from low-income families, with disabilities, and of limited English proficiency, are prepared to be successful, participating members of our democracy.

While we all have different positions on various aspects of the law, based on concerns raised during the implementation of NCLB, we believe the following significant, constructive corrections are among those necessary to make the Act fair and effective. Among these concerns are: over-emphasizing standardized testing, narrowing curriculum and instruction to focus on test preparation rather than richer academic learning; over-identifying schools in need of improvement; using sanctions that do not help improve schools; inappropriately excluding low-scoring children in order to boost test results; and inadequate funding. Overall, the law's emphasis needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement.

Recommended Changes in NCLB

Progress Measurement

  • Replace the law's arbitrary proficiency targets with ambitious achievement targets based on rates of success actually achieved by the most effective public schools.
  • Allow states to measure progress by using students' growth in achievement as well as their performance in relation to pre-determined levels of academic proficiency.
  • Ensure that states and school districts regularly report to the government and the public their progress in implementing systemic changes to enhance educator, family, and community capacity to improve student learning.
  • Provide a comprehensive picture of students' and schools' performance by moving from an overwhelming reliance on standardized tests to using multiple indicators of student achievement in addition to these tests.
  • Fund research and development of more effective accountability systems that better meet the goal of high academic achievement for all children

Assessments

  • Help states develop assessment systems that include district and school-based measures in order to provide better, more timely information about student learning.
  • Strengthen enforcement of NCLB provisions requiring that assessments must:
  1. Be aligned with state content and achievement standards;
  2. Be used for purposes for which they are valid and reliable;
  3. Be consistent with nationally recognized professional and technical standards;
  4. Be of adequate technical quality for each purpose required under the Act;
  5. Provide multiple, up-to-date measures of student performance including measures that assess higher order thinking skills and understanding; and
  6. Provide useful diagnostic information to improve teaching and learning.
  • Decrease the testing burden on states, schools and districts by allowing states to assess students annually in selected grades in elementary, middle schools, and high schools.

Building Capacity

  • Ensure changes in teacher and administrator preparation and continuing professional development that research evidence and experience indicate improve educational quality and student achievement.    
  • Enhance state and local capacity to effectively implement the comprehensive changes required to increase the knowledge and skills of administrators, teachers, families, and communities to support high student achievement.

Sanctions

  • Ensure that improvement plans are allowed sufficient time to take hold before applying sanctions; sanctions should not be applied if they undermine existing effective reform efforts.
  • Replace sanctions that do not have a consistent record of success with interventions that enable schools to make changes that result in improved student achievement.

Funding

  • Raise authorized levels of NCLB funding to cover a substantial percentage of the costs that states and districts will incur to carry out these recommendations, and fully fund the law at those levels without reducing expenditures for other education programs.
  • Fully fund Title I to ensure that 100 percent of eligible children are served.

We, the undersigned, will work for the adoption of these recommendations as central structural changes needed to NCLB at the same time that we advance our individual organization's proposals.

  1. Advancement Project
  2. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
  3. American Association of School Administrators
  4. American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA)
  5. American Association of School Personnel Administrators
  6. American Association of University Women
  7. American Baptist Women's Ministries
  8. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  9. American Counseling Association
  10. American Dance Therapy Association
  11. American Federation of Labor and Congress  of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
  12. American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA)
  13. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
  14. American Federation of Teachers
  15. American Friends Service Committee
  16. American Humanist Association
  17. American Music Therapy Association
  18. American Occupational Therapy Association
  19. American School Counselor Association
  20. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  21. Americans for the Arts
  22. Annenberg Institute for School Reform
  23. Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  24. Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
  25. ASPIRA
  26. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  27. Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)
  28. Association of Education Publishers
  29. Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO)
  30. Association of Teacher Educators
  31. Big Picture Company
  32. Business and Professional Women/USA (BPW)
  33. Center for Community Change
  34. Center for Expansion of Language and Thinking
  35. Center for Parent Leadership
  36. Center for Policy Alternatives
  37. Change To Win
  38. Children's Aid Society
  39. Children's Defense Fund
  40. Church Women United
  41. Christians for Justice Action-United Church of Christ 
  42. Citizens for Effective Schools
  43. Coalition for Community Schools
  44. Coalition of Essential Schools
  45. Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
  46. Communities for Quality Education
  47. Consortium for School Networking
  48. Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders
  49. Council for Exceptional Children
  50. Council for Hispanic Ministries of the United Church of Christ
  51. Council for Learning Disabilities
  52. Council of Administrators of Special Education, Inc.
  53. Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform
  54. Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  55. Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)
  56. Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children (DLD/CEC)
  57. Education Action!
  58. Education Law Center
  59. Education Not Incarceration
  60. Episcopal Church
  61. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  62. Every Child Matters
  63. FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing
  64. Forum for Education and Democracy
  65. Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
  66. Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GPAC)
  67. Hmong National Development
  68. Indigenous Women's Network
  69. Institute for Language and Education Policy
  70. International Reading Association
  71. International Society for Technology in Education
  72. International Technology Education Association
  73. Japanese American Citizens League
  74. Jobs with Justice
  75. Learning Disabilities Association of America
  76. League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
  77. Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice of the United Church of Christ
  78. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  79. NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF)
  80. National Alliance of Black School Educators
  81. National Association for Asian and Pacific American Education (NAAPAE)
  82. National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE)
  83. National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian
    and Vietnamese Americans (NAFEA)
  84. National Association for the Education of African American Children with Learning Disabilities
  85. National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
  86. National Association of Pupil Services Administrators
  87. National Association of School Nurses
  88. National Association of School Psychologists
  89. National Association of Secondary School Principals
  90. National Association of Social Workers
  91. National Baptist Convention, USA (NBCUSA)
  92. National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
  93. National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE)
  94. National Coalition of ESEA Title I Parents
  95. National Conference of Black Mayors
  96. National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP)
  97. National Council for the Social Studies
  98. National Council of Churches
  99. National Council of Jewish Women
  100. National Council of Teachers of English
  101. National Education Association
  102. National Education Taskforce
  103. National Federation of Filipino American Associations
  104. National Indian Education Association
  105. National Indian School Board Association
  106. National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
  107. National Mental Health Association
  108. National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA
  109. National Pacific Islander Educator Network
  110. National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  111. National Reading Conference
  112. National Rural Education Association
  113. National School Boards Association
  114. National School Supply and Equipment Association
  115. National Science Teachers Association
  116. National Superintendents Roundtable
  117. National Urban League
  118. Native Hawaiian Education Association
  119. Network of Spiritual Progressives
  120. Organization of Chinese Americans
  121. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
  122. People for the American Way
  123. Presbyterian Church (USA)
  124. Progressive National Baptist Convention
  125. Promise the Children
  126. Protestants for the Common Good
  127. Public Education Network (PEN)
  128. Rural School and Community Trust
  129. Service Employees International Union
  130. School Social Work Association of America
  131. Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  132. Social Action Committee of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations
  133. Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
  134. Stand for Children
  135. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  136. The Holmes Partnership
  137. United Black Christians of the United Church of Christ
  138. United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Concerns
  139. United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
  140. United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
  141. USAction
  142. Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church
  143. Women of Reform Judaism
  144. Young Men's Empowerment Network


RELATED LINKS

  • anc_dyn_linksForum on Educational Accountability