On April 29, at an event co-sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the Alliance for Excellent Education released a new report that examines the effect of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on high schools. Although the law covers grades kindergarten through 12, most attention has been placed on NCLB‘s impact on K-eight schools and, in particular, the testing requirements for grades three through eight. This focus, however, has given the mistaken impression that the law has little or no impact on high schools. While high schools do face fewer requirements than elementary and middle schools, they must still comply with several provisions of the new law.
The report, Left Out and Left Behind: NCLB and the American High School, noted that nearly 800 high schools have been identified by their states as “in need of improvement.” If these schools are receiving NCLB Title I funds, they will confront the same sanctions elementary schools face in terms of school choice, supplemental services, and, eventually, restructuring. Because there is little or no federal support for students at this level, current funding does not begin to address the needs of the approximately 6 million at-risk middle and high school students who read below basic levels and are at the greatest risk of dropping out of school.