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Broad-based Coalition Urges Major Changes for 'No Child Left Behind'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 21, 2004

Broad-based Coalition Urges Major Changes for

‘No Child Left Behind’

Educators, advocates say Congress can refocus federal law on positive measures and solutions for nation’s schoolchildren

Washington, D.C. – The ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act’s goals of strong academic progress for all children and closing the achievement gap are laudable. But Congress must make substantial changes in the law to meet those goals, more than 20 national education, civil rights, disability, children’s and citizens’ groups said in a joint statement today. The groups are aligned to refocus the federal law on positive measurements and solutions.

Today’s joint statement to Congress was followed by a conference call.
Representatives from the NAACP and the Children’s Defense Fund, as well as educators and children’s advocates, detailed specific principles for reforms that lawmakers should adopt next year and that cannot wait until the current law expires in 2007.

“We have a firm commitment here both to preserving a strong accountability system and to ensuring a strong federal role in improving student achievement,” said Jill Morningstar, co-director of Education and Youth Development for the Children’s Defense Fund.

“We must shift the focus from imposing sanctions toward building the capacity of schools to meet the needs of all children,” said Monty Neill, executive director of FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing. “This will include increased training for educators, making schools more engaging for students, and strengthening ties among families and communities and their schools.”

The joint statement includes recommendations that Congress change the law to:

· Ensure a more-comprehensive picture of school and student performance by shifting from an overwhelming reliance on standardized tests to the use of other student achievement measures in addition to testing.

· Give states and local governments the funding and support they need to meet the objectives of the law without reducing expenditures for other education programs.

· Provide resources that will strengthen the knowledge and skills of school and district staff, and supporting programs that help parents and communities actively participate in their children’s education.

· Replace sanctions that neither have a consistent record of success nor allow schools to continue successful reform efforts.

“In order for all children to meet the standards in the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government must take the lead, by example, on efforts to address funding disparities at the state and local level,”
said John Jackson, national director of education for the NAACP.

For more information, contact

Anjetta McQueen, National Education Association, 202-822-7251

Gary Ratner, Citizens for Effective Schools, 301-469-8000

Sabrina Williams, Advancement Project, 202-728-9557

Avram Goldstein, Children’s Defense Fund, 202-662-3615

###

The undersigned of the joint statement will work for the adoption of these recommendations as central structural changes needed to NCLB:

Advancement Project

American Association of School Administrators

American Association of University Women

ASPIRA

Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO)

Campaign for Fiscal Equity/ACCESS

Children's Defense Fund

Citizens for Effective Schools

Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders

Council for Exceptional Children

Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform

Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children (DLD/CEC)

FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing

Forum for Education and Democracy

International Reading Association

Learning Disabilities Association of America

National Alliance of Black School Educators

National Association of School Psychologists

National Association of Social Workers

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE)

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Education Association

National School Boards Association

National Urban League

Service Employees International Union
School Social Work Association of America


— Press Release



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