ESEA Then & Now

A comparison of federal education law in 1965 to how it stands today:


1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
Aim: To strengthen and improve educational quality and education opportunities in the Nation’s elementary and secondary schools. Aim: To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.
The determinate of quality was to be based on “appropriate measures” as determined by state and local officials with overview of the federal government to assure that equal access was being provided. The “gap” is based on standardized tests scores which have never been proven to differentiate between test preparation results and the results of quality education.
Inequality of opportunity was addressed through funding for the educational needs of children of low-income families to meet those children’s needs as determined locally. The accountability mechanism is based on standardized achievement test scores and escalating “sanctions” for underperforming schools.
Equality in access was extended to entire communities where high concentrations of low-income families resided through the funding of educational centers and services deemed vital to educational success. When the law came out in 2001, the term flexibility was chosen to express the idea of local control of the uses for federal tax dollars and now is being applied to the whole law through the idea of waivers to selected states.
Strengthening and improving was to be done through research, dissemination of information, and training aimed at quality teaching, counseling, and state leadership. The need for “choice” was determined by standardized achievement test scores with the labeling of schools, and, offered to the public through charter schools and voucher proposals.
Reauthorization of the law was to occur at least ever 5 to 6 years based on research findings of progress under this law as presented to the president, congress and the public. NCLB is the 2001 reauthorization of ESEA. Reauthorization was due in 2007. This is now the longest failure on the part of congress to act on this law in the history of this law.
Theory: Quality teachers, counselors, leaders and equal opportunities will produce better educational outcomes. Theory: Higher standards, testing, and accountability based on test results will produce better educational outcomes.
Results: Based on our own national assessment of educational progress (NAEP), there was a significant narrowing of the achievement gap during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Results: Based on our own national assessment of educational progress (NAEP), after the 1980’s there has been only periods of small declines and small gains in one area or another along with periods of no change.
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