No Child, "a product of negotiation, not law"

Reuters published an article today on Harvard University Civil Rights Project's newly released 60 page examination of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and the subsequent policy shifts in states' accountability. The report charges that "political compromises forged between some states and the federal government have allowed schools in some predominantly white districts to dodge penalties faced by regions with larger ethnic minority populations." The report's executive summary states:
This report documents the changes states have made to their accountability plans and examines how these policy shifts affect the meaning of accountability and who benefits (and loses) from the changes. We reviewed decision letters sent to all 50 states that outlined the changes approved by ED through December 2005. The intent of this report is to provide policymakers with information they can use to develop a systemic approach to correcting the flaws in NCLB by documenting the requirements that are difficult for states to implement and identifying areas where the law may not be working as intended. The report provides an easy to understand synopsis of the changes allowed by ED and state-by-state summaries of the amendments each state adopted.
The news article quotes Gail Sunderman, lead author of the study, as saying, "There's a very uneven effect. There are no clear uniform standards that are governing No Child Left Behind. If one state gets one thing, another state can do something else."

The Unraveling of No Child Left Behind: How Negotiated Changes Transform the Law, by Gail L. Sunderman
(available in pdf, 504KB, from The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University)

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