NCLB Reauthorization Proposal and What Really Works in Turning Schools Around?

by Charlene DiCalogero
Assistant Director, Federal Grants Programs

Two items in the January 18th EdWeek caught my eye. The first is an article about the ongoing attempts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act most recently known as No Child Left Behind, as well as the Obama Administration’s proposed waiver/modification plan for some of NCLB’s provisions even if a revised version of the law does not pass.

The article includes a helpful comparison chart of what is currently in the law, and some major differences (and similarities) between the two proposed bills as well as the White House’s alternative plan.

Second is the back page commentary by Alan M. Blankstein and Pedro Noguera entitled “What Really Works in Turning Schools Around?”¬† Professor Noguera is a highly respected and progressive professor of education now at NYU, and formerly at Harvard. Two quotes that stood out:

“The first problem with the administration’s approach is that it specifies the remedy rather than beginning with an accurate diagnosis of the problem. Firing staff members or rewarding them based on performance assumes schools are failing because the staff is lazy or uninterested in improving. The actual problem is always more complicated.”

“There must be a clear and deliberate strategy for improving instruction. Professional development must be directly related to the skill areas where assessments show students are weakest. Professional development is effective when it is site-based, ongoing, and draws upon the expertise of the most effective teachers in the building. Creating a climate of collaboration among teachers is essential.”

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