What the No Child Left Behind law means for your child
Page 5 of 5
Does Tutoring Work?
A 2006 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office on how the tutoring services requirement of NCLB is working recommends that the federal government help states evaluate whether tutoring is improving student achievement because no state has done this conclusively.
By GreatSchools Staff
Few Students Take Advantage of School Choice, Tutoring
Only about 1.6% of students eligible to transfer from low-performing schools did so in 2005-2006, a percentage that hasn't changed much since 2002-2003 when the option was first offered. The Center for Education Policy survey suggested that families didn't choose to change because they were satisfied with their current schools, wanted to go to schools in their neighborhoods or were discouraged by long commutes.
But others have accused school districts of failing to notify parents of their option to transfer. School choice advocates took legal action on these complaints and sued the Los Angeles and Compton, California, school districts in 2006.
Only 20% of students eligible for free tutoring are getting it. School districts and for-profit tutoring companies are sparring over the reasons why. Some tutoring companies say districts have failed to inform families in a clear and timely way that students are eligible for tutoring. Some school officials have pointed to the lack of oversight of tutoring companies and say the quality of services has been wildly uneven.
In an attempt to increase the number of students getting tutoring, the federal government changed the rules in 2006 for 23 school districts in Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. In these districts, students in schools that have failed to meet goals for two years are eligible for free services and don't have to wait for their schools to fail a third time.
NCLB Prompts Protests, Revolts
As the increasingly strict provisions and penalties of the law have taken effect, protests over the law have grown in scores of states, where officials complain that the law requires them to spend dollars they don't have.
The single biggest criticism is that the federal government has not fully funded the law, a charge the Bush administration counters by saying that the law is a partnership between the U.S. government and the states.
The New York Times reported in 2006 that the Bush administration has increased education spending since the Clinton era, but the money for No Child Left Behind stayed at $24.5 billion in 2004 and 2005. The administration cut funding for 2006 to $23.5 billion, the Times reported.
Others argue that the law imposes a rigid solution to problems historically better solved at the state and local levels. Utah decided in 2005 to forfeit federal money rather than follow the law. Other districts and states have filed legal challenges or are contemplating them.
While praising the law's goals, the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures has called for more flexibility and more money.
In response to the criticisms, the federal government has loosened some of the rules for some states. But critics, on the left and right, say the law creates a number of other problems:
- Officials can "game" the system because each state sets its own criteria for meeting many of the law's requirements. States can make tests easier so that more students can meet proficiency standards. Critics argue that this is exactly what has happened in some cases. And despite a requirement in the law that parents be allowed to transfer children out of unsafe schools, not a single one of California's more than 9,000 schools has ever been classified as "persistently dangerous," a conclusion questioned by federal auditors.
- The law jeopardizes privacy rights. The U.S. military has the right to obtain lists from high schools of students' names, addresses and phone numbers for recruiting purposes, and must be granted the same access to schools that is given to college and business recruiters. Parents who oppose this practice may "opt out," but schools have not always made this provision clear.
- NCLB conflicts with another federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. This law entitles students with learning disabilities to an education that meets their needs. The federal government has given states more leeway in measuring student progress in response to protests from parents of children with special needs. But critics say the government hasn't gone far enough. The law's advocates respond that it is this very accountability requirement that will ultimately improve instruction for learning-disabled students.