Fact Sheet on NEA's veiws regarding the No Child Left Behind Reform Act (NCLBRA)
NCLBRA provides states with the flexibility to use multiple measures to calculate student achievement. Under current law, schools are held accountable for student achievement based on how their students perform on annual tests. Unfortunately, test scores alone may not be an adequate or accurate measure of student achievement. Additional measures such as an individual student's rate of improvement, or graduation rates, may be better yardsticks to gauge whether students are making adequate yearly progress towards proficiency. While technically the law allows for measures other than test scores to be considered, it does not allow additional measures to result in taking schools off a "needs improvement" list. Secondary measures can only be used to penalize schools, not help them, in the accountability process. NCLBRA will allow schools to use added academic measures in a way that gives them credit for performing well on them. NCLBRA also provides monies for states and school districts to increase their capacity to track student improvement from year to year.
NCLBRA allows schools to target school choice and supplemental services to the students that actually demonstrate the need for them. Under current law, school choice must be offered to all students in a school, and supplemental services must be provided to all low-income students in a school, regardless of whether these children are the students that have actually failed to meet testing goals. Targeting resources to the students that actually demonstrate the need for them is a more efficient way to maximize limited resources.
NCLBRA ensures that NCLB's highly qualified teacher provisions are both rigorous and reasonable. As interpreted, provisions in the law requiring teachers to be "highly qualified" to teach are particularly burdensome for some teachers. For example, a 7th grade teacher in a K-8 school could be required to hold degrees, or take exams in, all of the subjects that they teach: English, math, science and social studies. Recognizing the burden such provisions could put on some teachers, NCLBRA:
- Allows middle school teachers to pass a comprehensive state middle school exam to fulfill NCLB teacher requirements rather than take separate exams in each of the subjects that they may teach.
- Allows for the creation of a comprehensive state social studies certificate at the middle or high school level that will allow teachers to teach history, geography, economics and civics without having to separately major in each of these subjects.
- Allows for the creation of a comprehensive state science certificate at the middle or high school level that will allow teachers to teach earth science, biology, chemistry and physics without having to separately major in each of these subjects.