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NCLB: School Improvement

The No Child Left Behind school improvement process is seriously flawed.

  • The first problem is the AYP (adequate yearly progress) measure used to identify schools for improvement (see AFT comments on AYP) which causes effective schools to be identified as "in need of improvement." This misidentification of schools drains resources from schools that truly need assistance and causes parents and communities to lose confidence in their school staffs and the accountability process.
  • The second problem is the initial remedies for improving schools—choice and supplemental services—are not research based and lack appropriate accountability.
  • The third problem is the timing of interventions. NCLB directs district resources to supplemental service providers and transporting students to other schools before an adequate school restructuring plan can be developed and implemented. The ensuing declining enrollment and decreasing resources further cripples these schools that actually need additional supports.
  • The fourth problem is that the prescribed NCLB process does not provide adequate time and necessary resources for a thorough and early (first year) analysis of the problems leading to low performance and for the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to address these issues.

AFT will lobby Congress to amend NCLB to assure that the school improvement process:

  • Is based on credible data for identifying struggling schools that need additional resources.
  • Has an intensive planning year, when a school is first identified as "in need of improvement," so that the school can develop an improvement plan that addresses the needs of the school and is based on research-based, proven programs.
  • Provides the necessary resources to implement the plan and see results within three years.
  • Requires schools to implement choice and supplemental services only if the school improvement plan has been demonstrated to be ineffective after three years.
  • Requires the school to undertake more drastic restructuring if the school does not show measurable improvement.

AFT Resources

The AFT Center for School Improvement

AFT on Public School Choice, updated June 2007

AFT on Supplemental Educational Services, updated June 2007

Summary of Sanctions for Schools and Districts not Making Adequate Yearly Progress, 2005

AFT Summary on AYP and School Improvement, English | Spanish, 2004

Q&A: School Improvement, Corrective Action, and Restructuring, updated April 2007

Additional Resources

Open Letter to District of Columbia Public School Officials on School Restructuring, Center for Education Policy (2008)