No Child Left Behind Act Continues to Show Improvements
Although we are well past the start of the 2005-06 school year, this is still an appropriate time to evaluate students' goals for the current school year. Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001. NCLB is an educational reform bill designed to hold schools accountable for performance by annually measuring and reporting the performance of fourth and eighth grade students. NCLB overwhelmingly passed Congress with a bipartisan vote with the goals of creating an incentive for schools to improve educational quality and results; improving student performance through increased accountability; as well as flexibility and options for parents.
The most recent Nation's Report Card, called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) published last July showed that student achievement for the 2004-2005 school year, improved slightly over the previous school year.
Nationwide, achievement gaps between white and minority students also narrowed in the most recent measurements. Last year, eighth grade, mathematic scores reached the highest levels since testing began, among White, African-American, and Hispanic students. A study completed in October 2004 by The Education Trust, found that out of the 24 states that had three years of publicly available math scores, 23 states demonstrated improved math scores. Additionally, in the majority of those 24 states, the achievement gap between white and minority students narrowed.
The results for Ohio schools are also encouraging. Statewide, Ohio saw a 4.2 percent improvement for the 2004-05 school year. Ohio fourth and eighth graders scored above the national average on reading and math exams. There are some great local stories to share as well. The 2004-2005 Local Report Card shows that almost 96 percent of Ohio school districts earned an Excellent, Effective, or Continuous Improvement distinction. Five school districts in the Third Congressional District of Ohio including; Centerville City School District, Northmont City School District, Oakwood City School District, Vandalia- Butler City School District, and Springborough Community City School District, earned an Excellent rating.
There are some common misunderstandings about NCLB that are worth clarifying. State and local governments are the primary sources of funding for K-12 education, as they always have been. In the 2004-2005 school year, state and local governments funded over 80 percent of K-12 education nationwide. However, total federal education funding has been increased to record levels during the past few years. Congress has increased federal funding for education by 34 percent since 2001.
An analysis of U.S. Department of Education data released by the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce found that the states collectively returned more than $66 million in unused federal education funds to the U.S. Treasury in 2004. The state of Ohio returned over $631,000 to the U.S. Treasury. Thus, Congress is providing more funding for education than the states are able to fully spend.
The No Child Left Behind Act has proven to be effective legislation for improving our schools and education system. Through annual measurement we can follow the development and improvements of specific schools and students. We can hold schools responsible for reaching the goals they have set. In its first few years NCLB has resulted in improvements and narrowed the achievement gap for minority students. Congress has acted by increasing federal education funding to record levels, so taxpayers and parents can have confidence that the investments in learning will pay valuable dividends to our entire society with a brighter and more educated next generation. I encourage all parents to get involved in their children's education. Parents can look up the progress of their children's schools by visiting www.ode.state.oh.us/reportcard/ .