States using loopholes to comply with 'No Child Left Behind'

An investigative project by the Associated Press released April 17 shows that states are exploiting a loophole in the so-called No Child Left Behind legislation to avoid the law's stiff penalties.

States are getting exemptions from the Education Department that allow schools to deliberately not count nearly 2 million students' test scores, primarily from minority students. Because of the vast achievement gaps that still exist between racial groups, this exclusion is thought to help some schools escape penalties for not meeting adequate yearly progress.

NEA President Reg Weaver said:

"The one-size-fits-all approach of No Child Left Behind has become a burden for states to sidestep, rather than a tool to help students learn and schools improve. The law forces schools to ‘teach to the test,' rather than teach all subjects which will enable every student to compete in a global society. This research shows the law has made states so afraid that their schools will fail to meet adequate yearly progress that they are seeking out loopholes. This is an unfortunate consequence of a system designed to penalize public schools and educators, rather than educate the children and of this nation.

"No Child Left Behind has prompted states to exploit achievement gaps between racial groups when they should be closing those gaps. Minority students shouldn't become pawns that are shifted around to meet unfunded federal mandates. It may show progress on paper by skewing numbers, but real progress depends on adequate resources, smaller class sizes, qualified teachers and parental involvement. Until No Child Left Behind helps provide these things, states will seek out other ways to escape penalties."

For more information on No Child Left Behind:

--NEA media release