Statement from Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education and Former Governor of West Virginia, On the Sixth Anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act
Middle and High School Students’ Needs Remain Unmet as NCLB Reauthorization Stalls
On January 8, 2007, key education leaders in Congress joined President Bush and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and to discuss ways to improve the law, which was scheduled to be reauthorized in 2007. But after a year of hearings and debate in Congress and little apparent negotiation between Congress and the president during that time, the NCLB reauthorization remains unfinished.
Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia issued the following statement:
“Whether moved by the 1.2 million students who dropped out of school last year, or our nation’s continued slide in international math and science rankings, the U.S. Congress and the President must reauthorize NCLB and make key changes that will help the law better address the unique challenges facing the nation’s middle and high school students. The 7,000 students who drop out of high school every school day demand immediate action.
“As it stands, NCLB currently does little to address the needs of the nation’s middle and high schools, and until a bill is reauthorized that includes the interventions and supports that these schools and their students need, the educational system will continue to fail millions of American students each year.”
Facts that support Wise’s urgent message include:
- More than 1.2 million students did not graduate from American high schools in 2007; the lost lifetime earnings in America for that class of dropouts alone totals nearly $329 billion.
- American fifteen-year-olds fell two places in international rankings on science and math, according to the results of the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessments (PISA), released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on December 4. The results place the United States twenty-fifth among the thirty OECD member countries in math and twenty-first out of the thirty OECD countries in science.
- A poll by Public Opinion Strategies and Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that half of Americans think that the country is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to ensuring that students have the skills necessary to compete in a global economy.
- An Associated Press article based on research from Johns Hopkins University revealed that there are approximately 1,700 high schools across the country that are considered “dropout factories” because no more than 60 percent of the students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year.
- Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” indicated that U.S. fourth-grade students posted the highest average reading scores in the history of the assessment. However, eighth graders’ reading scores, while one point higher than in 2005, were still one point lower than the average score in 2003. In addition, nearly 70 percent of all eighth-grade students failed to score as being able to read proficiently or better.
For more information on the crisis facing America’s high schools and the solutions to address it that should be included in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, contact the Alliance for Excellent Education.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.