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STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT: New Report Finds Teacher Prep Is One of the Greatest Challenges

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"The ECS Report to the Nation demonstrates that major shifts in state education policy can occur over a relatively short time. While adaptations in No Child Left Behind continue to be made, the overall progress is remarkable."

Preparing teachers to be effective and successful in the classroom is one of the greatest challenges states must overcome in order to meet the requirements of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), according to a new report released by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). The findings show that few states are on track to provide high-quality professional development for all teachers.

ECS Report to the Nation: State Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act was released at a session of the 2004 National Forum on Education Policy, held in Orlando, Florida, July 13-16. The report is based primarily on statistics culled from a database developed by ECS staff with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The report compares state progress from March 2003 through March 2004.

“There has been and continues to be a great deal of discussion around NCLB on many levels,” said Ted Sanders, president of ECS, a Denver-based nonprofit that helps state and federal policymakers improve student learning. “But this is the first chance the nation has had to view the issues in terms of what states are actually doing.”

The report found that just five states-Connecticut, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania-had met, or were partially on track to meet, all forty NCLB requirements. Some of these requirements include the adoption of reading, math, and science standards; standards for teacher employment; and school report cards, among others.

“Not since A Nation at Risk has a report on education been so needed,” said Milton Goldberg, ECS distinguished senior fellow. “The ECS Report to the Nation demonstrates that major shifts in state education policy can occur over a relatively short time. While adaptations in No Child Left Behind continue to be made, the overall progress is remarkable.”

Only ten states appear fully on track to ensuring that both new and veteran teachers are qualified to teach in their subject areas. And fewer than half the states are on track to making sure that scientifically based technical assistance is provided to low-performing schools.

ECS identified five recommendations for federal officials and state policymakers: embracing NCLB as a civil rights issue; ensuring performance growth of all students, not just low-performing students; reassessing Adequate Yearly Progress; strengthening states’ highly qualified teacher requirements; and building state and local capacity.

“It is time to realize the promise of educational quality set forth 50 years ago in the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which increased access for millions of American children,” concluded Sanders. “NCLB holds the potential to help fulfill that promise, and we must build upon the findings of this report to make the law work.”

To learn more about this report and to access the NCLB database online, visit the ECS website athttp://www.ecs.org/html/special/nclb/reporttothenation/reporttothenation.htm.

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