Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Press Release

Contact: Gail Sunderman, 410-435-1207


Los Angeles-January 9, 2008-A new book from The Civil Rights
Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP/PDC) at UCLA's Graduate School
of Education and Information Studies evaluates and accesses the
efficacy of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) test-based
accountability in today's schools. The book, Holding NCLB
Accountable: Achieving Accountability, Equity, and School Reform
(Corwin Press, 2008), is edited by CRP/PDC senior researcher Gail L.
The pending reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act has
generated a spirited debate among educators. In this book, a team of
noted education scholars assess NCLB's performance-based system and
discuss options for improving the law. With contributions from Gary
Orfield, Linda Darling Hammond, Catherine Snow, Robert Linn, and
Daniel Koretz, among others, Holding NCLB Accountable examines themes
of capacity, accountablity, school reform, and the law's impact on
educating all students, especially those from low-income and diverse
backgrounds. It responds to critical questions such as the following:

. How do we develop assessments and accountabilty systems that assist
rather than interfere with educational progress?

. How do we press for change without being counterproductive?

. How do we create a viable educational agenda that is mindful of
state and local capacity?

Harvard testing expert Daniel Koretz argues that the entire NCLB
accountabiltiy system is not based on hard evidence. Koretz says, "We
know far too little about how to hold schools accountable for
improving student performance."

Jaekyung Lee, associate professor of education at the State
University of New York in Buffalo, compares the findings from the
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to state assessment
results and shows that the federal accountability hasn't improved
reading and mathematical achievement or reduced achievement gaps.
"Based on the NAEP, there are no systemic indications of improving the
average achievement and narrowing the gap after NCLB," says Lee.
Other contributors suggest that the nation has not focused on the
kinds of serious long-term reforms that can actually produce gains and
narrow the huge gaps in opportunity and achievement for minority

Throughout the book, contributors provide information on what we
know and don't know about educational accountability and what types of
accountalbity systems will most improve opportunties for
low-performing students while minimizing the negative effects. They
provide the groundwork for developing a system of multiple measures,
for obtaining evidence on whether NCLB is achieving its aim to
increase student achievement and close the racial achievement gap, and
tackling the very important issue of whether states have the financial
and administrative capacity to meet the law's requirements and turn
around low-performing schools. Finally, contributors examine whether
NCLB maximizes its potential for fostering reform in low-performing
schools. Taken together, these discussions raise important questions
about the law's effects and offer strong recommendations for designing
workable accountablity systems that will lead to coherent efforts to
improve schools.

Among the authors' findings are the following:

. We know too little about what types of accountability systems will
most improve opportunities for low-performing students.

. The current NCLB accountability system does not provide the
information we need to know how students are performing or what to do
to advance students' learning and improve instruction.

. Evidence that NCLB is working to improve student achievement and
close achievement gaps is not promising.

. State education agencies' capacity to meet the law's requirements
and intervene in low-performing schools on the scale demanded by NCLB
is limited.

. Many of the NCLB provisions, including the definition of highly
qualified teachers, the design of the testing and accountability
regulations, and the reliance on mandates impede school reform and
make it more difficult for high schools serving low-income students to
do their work.

. Only about 40% of the nation's high schools that have high dropout
rates are identified as needing improvement by NCLB's core
accountability measure (AYP).

The editor and authors of Holding NCLB Accountable recommend:

. More needs to be done to develop an accountability system that is
fair, yields information that informs and advances student learning
goals, and contributes to improving instruction. This includes, but
is not limited to, adopting performance goals that are ambitious but
realistic and obtainable, multiple indicators of performance, and
realistic timetables for school improvement.

. The high expectations of NCLB must be paired with adequate support
and greater investment in capacity building in low-performing schools
and districts.

. To offset the disadvantages faced by historically lower performing
groups of students, in-school programs and reforms need to be
complemented with out-of-school interventions and programs that
address nonschool conditions such as housing, poverty, health care,
and safety.

. An independent, federally funded analysis of what it takes in
administrative and financial resources for states to have a reasonable
chance of turning around low-performing schools needs to be conducted.

Published by Corwin Press, Holding NCLB Accountable is funded in
part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Charles Stewart
Mott Foundation. Interested readers can order the book through Corwin
Press at:

Contributors to Holding NCLB Accountable include: Robert
Balfanz, Linda Darling-Hammond, Walter M. Haney, Willis D. Hawley,
Michael Kieffer, Daniel Koretz, Mindy L. Kornhaber, Jaekyung Lee,
Nettie Legters, Nonie K. Lesaux, Robert L. Linn, Goodwin Liu, Heinrich
Mintrop, Gary Orfield, Russell W. Rumberger Catherine Snow, and Gail
L. Sunderman

The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA's
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies is a leading,
national organization devoted to research and policy analysis about
critical civil rights issues facing the nation. Its mission is to
bridge the worlds of ideas and action by becoming a preeminent source
of intellectual capital and a forum for building consensus within the
civil rights movement.

About the Editor:
Gail Sunderman is a Senior Research Associate in K-12 Education for
the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles. She received her
doctorate in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Her
research focuses on educational policy and politics, urban school
reform, and the impact of policy on the educational opportunities for
at-risk students. At CRP/PDC, she is project director on a five-year
study examining the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act of
2001 and is co-author of the book NCLB Meets School Realities: Lessons
from the Field (Corwin Press, 2005).

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