Friday, March 18, 2005

Task Force of the National Conference of State Legislatures on NCLB Report

Task Force on No Child Left Behind--Final Report
Thursday Mar 10, 2005

Executive Summary

The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB): to close or dramatically narrow the differences in achievement among American students that cross lines of skin color, ethnicity, immigrant status and wealth. The success of American democracy and our economic future depend on a society in which everyone is educated to their full potential.

State legislatures and local schools have been working for many years to improve the quality of education for all students and to close the achievement gap. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) does not encompass a new goal handed down from the national level; rather, it crystallizes efforts that were under way in states and classrooms all over the country.

Passage of NCLB in the fall of 2001 generated immediate interest among state legislators and prompted an unprecedented number of inquiries to the National Conference of State Legislatures regarding the content of the law and its relation to existing state education statutes. It was clear that the law had struck a chord across the political spectrum, eliciting both passionate support and fiery opposition in both political parties and among liberals, conservatives and moderates. Legislators’ questions fell into two categories: What do we need to do to make the law work and how can we effect improvements to it through additional congressional or administrative actions?

In March 2004, the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures created a Task Force of state legislators and legislative staff and asked them to focus on the latter of the two questions. It directed the Task Force to dissect the law, conduct hearings throughout the country, consult with practitioners and other experts, examine the pertinent literature and research, and formulate a comprehensive set of recommendations geared toward improving the No Child Left Behind law, making it more workable, more responsive to variations among states and more effective in improving elementary and secondary education.

The bipartisan Task Force met eight times in 10 months and, on January 29, 2005, presented the attached final report to the NCSL Executive Committee, which unanimously approved it. The report has six chapters. Most of it—chapters two through five—recommends very specific changes that could be made to the law. The first chapter, in contrast, raises fundamental questions about the act’s underlying philosophy, and the last chapter addresses one of the most vexing questions raised by legislators: the federal funding available for NCLB. The balance of this summary provides a chapter-by-chapter overview of the report.

For entire report, go to

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