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Why NCLB Is Important to América

Federal Spending on K-12 Education under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and NAEP Reading Scores (Age 9).


Note: Appropriations for ESEA do not include funding for special education. Reading scores are the average scores for 9-year-olds, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). A score of 200 implies an ability to understand, combine ideas and make inferences based on short, uncomplicated passages about specific or sequentially related information.

*Reflects the President’s budget request for 2004.

Source: U.S. Department of Education Budget Service and NAEP 1999 Trends in Academic Progress.

Since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act first passed Congress in 1965, the federal government has spent more than $242 billion through 2003 to help educate disadvantaged children. Yet, the achievement gap in this country between rich and poor and white and minority students remains wide. According to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) on reading in 2000, only 32 percent of fourth-graders can read at a proficient level and thereby demonstrate solid academic achievement; and while scores for the highest-performing students have improved over time, those of America’s lowest-performing students have declined (National Assessment of Educational Progress 2001).

The good news is that some schools in cities and towns across the nation are creating high achievement for children with a history of low performance. If some schools can do it, then all schools should be able to do it.

United for Results

Because of No Child Left Behind: Parents will know their children’s strengths and weaknesses and how well schools are performing; they will have other options and resources for helping their children if their schools are chronically in need of improvement. Teachers will have the training and resources they need for teaching effectively, using curricula that are grounded in scientifically based research; annual testing lets them know areas in which students need extra attention.

Principals will have information they need to strengthen their schools’ weaknesses and to put into practice methods and strategies backed by sound, scientific research. Superintendents will be able to see which of their schools and principals are doing the best job and which need help to improve. School boards will be able to measure how their districts are doing and to measure their districts in relation to others across the state; they will have more and better information on which to base decisions about priorities in their districts.

Chief state school officers will know how the schools in their states and in other states are doing; they will be better able to pinpoint where guidance and resources are needed. Governors will have a yearly report card on how their states’ schools are doing; they will be able to highlight accomplishments of the best schools and target help to those schools that are in need of improvement. Community leaders and volunteer groups will have information they can use to rally their members in efforts to help children and schools that need the most help.

by ed.gov