Board Resolution on Reauthorization of NCLB
At its Oct. 23, 2007 meeting, the Salina USD 305 Board of Education passed the following resolution calling for the repeal of or significant changes to NCLB (No Child Left Behind), the federal law governing elementary and secondary education.
Board of Education of Unified School District No. 305, Saline County, Kansas
Approved Oct. 23, 2007
Salina USD 305 Board of Education supports the laudable goals of NCLB in promoting high standards of teaching and learning, eliminating the disparity in achievement among various student populations, and holding schools accountable for ensuring that every child—regardless of race, gender, economic status, family background, place of residence, or disability—develops skills that will enable a productive life.
However, this board believes that current measures of student achievement and school success/failure are educationally inappropriate. Beyond the unrealistic goal of 2014 for 100% proficiency in reading and math for all of America’s students, the law creates arbitrary expectations for subgroups of the student population, particularly special education students and English language learners. It imposes unfair labels and sanctions on schools which fail to meet those arbitrary standards, discriminating particularly against those schools with diverse populations. As one source (FairTest) says, “In its current form, NCLB is a punitive law that uses flawed standardized tests to falsely label many schools as failures, then punish them with harmful sanctions.”
Under pressure of high-stakes testing, many states have lowered their standards to improve test scores, and evidence suggests that low-performing students are dropping out in greater numbers while the needs of the gifted and high-achieving are being ignored. Moreover, the impact of the law in narrowing the curriculum and focusing educational efforts toward a single test and its results has stifled the creativity of students and teachers and deprived students of the broader curriculum necessary for personal growth and for success in a global society.
The federal mandate continues to require resources far beyond the local school district’s ability to provide: 1) School districts are now testing students in reading and math yearly in grades 3-8 and once in high school, requiring significant costs and time for assessments and reporting. 2) Developing and implementing programs to improve student achievement for special populations is costly. 3) Meeting the requirements for highly qualified staff strains monetary resources for salary and benefits as well as staff development.
Current research (Harvard Civil Rights Project) shows that the current law has not only done nothing to close achievement gaps but has instead harmed those schools and students most in need. It is the belief of this board of education that NCLB should be repealed. If, however, Congress chooses to reauthorize the law, responsible and timely action will be necessary to eliminate its flaws so that the nation’s schools are not subject to additional years of problems. We recommend the following as being necessary changes:
Impact on Teachers, Students, and Curriculum: The impact of NCLB in narrowing the curriculum to the subjects of the tests and the subsequent loss of instructional time for other subjects must be weighed in a discussion of what our society believes constitutes a high-quality education for our youth in the 21st Century. Although the law identifies core subjects, does the program of high-stakes testing, at this time in just two areas, allow for instruction in all the core areas? Does it encourage critical and creative thinking? Are life skills such as personal responsibility, ethics, adaptability, and leadership an important part of a child’s education? Should students possess global awareness, health and welfare awareness, civic literacy, and financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial awareness? Should they be able to use information and communications technology capably? (Skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills)
Measuring AYP: The current system of a single high-stakes test of reading and mathematics skills must be altered to include a growth model which will allow multiple indicators of student achievement. The law must align with the IDEA by measuring achievement of students with disabilities achievement at a level commensurate with the individual IEP and by removing the arbitrary limits on the number of students who qualify for alternative assessments. Students with limited English proficiency must be allowed ample opportunity to master English language skills and be assessed at appropriate levels. In addition, to avoid statistical bias toward school failure on standardized assessments, scores of students in multiple subgroups should be counted fractionally based on the number of subgroups to which they belong.
Sanctions: The law must be changed to redefine schools and districts in need of improvement and to take into account the unique circumstances of school districts from the largest to the smallest. Resources should be provided to help schools improve rather than diverting those resources away from areas of great need.
Highly Qualified Teacher: The definition of a highly qualified teacher must be amended to allow special education teachers of multiple cores subjects to be considered highly qualified if they have a bachelor’s degree and full state special education certificates or by HOUSSE as set forth in the IDEA. Teachers receiving a state certificate in a broad field should be considered highly qualified without having a major in each subject. The law should also provide for alternative means such as HOUSSE whereby teachers of multiple core subjects in rural schools and certain others can establish proficiency.
Funding: Congress must meet the challenge of its mandates by providing full funding of NCLB provisions without eliminating or cutting back other education funding. Schools in the poorest cities and neighborhoods must be provided even greater resources to improve student achievement.
USD 305 Board of Education and this district remain committed to providing all students with an excellent education. We stand ready to serve as a source of information about the current law’s impact on USD 305 and to evaluate the potential impact of proposed changes to the law on our district.
ADOPTED by the Board of Education of Unified School District No. 305, Saline County, Kansas, the 23rd day of October 2007.
Clerk, Board of Education