In the 2008-09 school year, of 37 states with relevant data, 9% of public schools missed federal academic benchmarks, in part, because of the state test scores of students with disabilities, according to a report by the Institute of Education Sciences. The report, which also considered how many schools were held accountable for the achievement of students with disabilities under No Child Left Behind, suggests that holding more schools accountable could lead to improved instructional practices and outcomes for all students.
Earlier this year Education Secretary Arne Duncan predicted as many as 82% of the country's schools could be labeled failing under No Child Left Behind if the law is not reformed. However, according to an unscientific survey by Education Week, it appears that schools in states that have released their scores are meeting state standards at a higher rate than Duncan estimated.
Four experts offer their thoughts in this interview on whether a focus on closing the achievement gap under No Child Left Behind has overlooked top achievers. Joshua Wyner of the Aspen Institute and Jon Schnur, chairman of the board of New Leaders for New Schools, contend that efforts to improve equality in education benefit all students. However, others argue that current policies ignore the needs of gifted learners and efforts to support struggling and advanced students need not be mutually exclusive.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is calling on educators and others to help rewrite the No Child Left Behind law by early next year. Duncan says the administration supports the testing and accountability portions of NCLB but hopes the law can go further in respecting the "honored, noble status of educators." Duncan will deliver a speech on the topic today, where he is expected to ask for a "greater sense of urgency" in reforming education.
Former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says she'll stay in Washington, D.C., until her younger daughter finishes high school in 2010, and plans to spend that time advocating for No Child Left Behind. The law is due for reauthorization, and Spellings said she believes her successor, Arne Duncan, will work to keep its main goal in place, which is to close the achievement gap among students.