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Standards-Based Reform and the Poverty Gap

Standards-Based Reform and the Poverty Gap: Lessons for "No Child Left Behind"

Adam Gamoran Editor
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    Standards-Based Reform and the Poverty Gap
    Book Description:

    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is the latest in more than two decades of federal efforts to raise educational standards and an even longer stream of initiatives to improve education for poor children. What lessons can we draw from these earlier efforts to help NCLB achieve its goals? In Standards-Based Reform and the Poverty Gap, leading scholars in sociology, economics, psychology, and education policy take on this critical question. Armed with the latest data and up-to-date research syntheses, the authors show that standards-based reform has had some positive effects, particularly in the area of teacher quality. Moreover, some of the critics' greatest fears have not been realized: for example, retention rates have not shot upward. Yet the overall pace of improvement has been slow, owing in part to poor implementation. Based on these findings, the contributors offer recommendations for the implementation and impending reauthorization of NCLB. These proposals, such as national testing and a rethinking of achievement targets, are sure to be at the center of the upcoming debate. Contributors include Thomas Dee, Laura Desimone, George Farkas, Barbara Foorman, Brian Jacob, Robert M. Hauser, Paul Hill, Tom Loveless, Meredith Phillips, Andrew C. Porter, and Thomas Smith.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-3034-7
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Part I. The Context of Contemporary Education Reform

    • 1 Introduction: Can Standards-Based Reform Help Reduce the Poverty Gap in Education?
      (pp. 3-16)

      Pervasive inequality is the most pressing problem facing U.S. education. While average achievement levels in some U.S. school districts equal those in the world’s high-achieving nations, other districts rank among the world’s low performers. Inequality is evident not only between districts but also within districts and within schools, where students of different social backgrounds attain widely varying outcomes. The problem is particularly pronounced for students who face economic disadvantages. While students from disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups made noteworthy progress over the last forty years (mainly from around 1970 to 1990), gaps among students from families with varied economic resources...

    • 2 Standards-Based Educational Reform Is One Important Step Toward Reducing the Achievement Gap
      (pp. 17-42)

      The 2001 passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) represents the high-water mark of the movement toward standards-based educational reform. The goal of NCLB is “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and State academic assessments.”¹ As many analysts have observed, this legislation reflects two powerful currents that have driven U.S. education policy over the past fifty years: the pursuit of educational excellence and the effort to ensure that all students, regardless of ethnicity or income,...

  4. Part II. Looking Back:: Standards-Based Reforms and Opportunities for the Disadvantaged

    • 3 How Did the Statewide Assessment and Accountability Policies of the 1990s Affect Instructional Quality in Low-Income Elementary Schools?
      (pp. 45-88)

      In 2005 a mere 16 percent of low-income fourth graders could read proficiently (as measured by national tests) compared with 42 percent of their middle-class counterparts.¹ The math gap was even larger.² The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 represents an ambitious attempt to improve this situation. Critics of NCLB complain about vagaries in the law, its underfunding, and the leeway given to states to choose their own standards and tests.³ But few can disagree with its ultimate purpose: “To ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach,...

    • 4 Has NCLB Improved Teacher and Teaching Quality for Disadvantaged Students?
      (pp. 89-119)

      Has NCLB improved teacher and teaching quality for disadvantaged students? The central impetus for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 was that many children were being “left behind” in our education system. Our analyses focus on how students from low-income families might be left behind in terms of teacher and teaching quality. How large were the teacher quality gaps between advantaged students (students who do not qualify for free or reduced priced lunch) and disadvantaged students (students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch) at the onset of NCLB? Has teacher quality for disadvantaged students improved?...

    • 5 Grade Retention in the Age of Standards-Based Reform
      (pp. 120-153)

      Signed into law in January 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) codifies a long-standing shift away from an emphasis on school resources in education policy to an emphasis on standards-based reform. The shift stems in part from a large body of research suggesting that inputs of school resources do not explain student achievement and, also, from sustained concern about the relative quality of education in the United States compared with other developed nations.¹

      Most states began to move toward standards-based reform in the 1990s, well before the passage of NCLB. For example, several years before NCLB was instituted...

    • 6 Do High School Exit Exams Influence Educational Attainment or Labor Market Performance?
      (pp. 154-198)

      The federal government has recently taken a central role in promulgating standards-based education reform through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. In particular, NCLB has introduced explicit requirements for student testing, as well as consequences for schools that fail to make “adequate yearly progress” toward specific achievement goals. The implementation of this landmark legislation continues to unfold at the state level as the 2013–14 deadline for raising all students to academic proficiency approaches.¹ A question of particular interest about these ongoing standards-based reforms is whether they will be able to close the achievement gaps that contribute...

  5. Part III. Looking Forward:: Standards, Sanctions, and the Future of NCLB

    • 7 The Role of Tutoring in Standards-Based Reform
      (pp. 201-228)

      There always have been, and likely always will be, children who have difficulty making adequate progress in school. This can be due to a variety of risk factors, some of which are social and economic. Thus, although the incidence of such learning difficulties is higher among the poor, the condition is far from unknown among middle- and upper-class students. Before looking at the services offered to poor children who are falling behind, it is useful to ask: What is the most effective, widely available treatment to help these students? In particular, how do well-educated and affluent parents typically respond when...

    • 8 NCLB School Choice and Children in Poverty
      (pp. 229-252)
      PAUL T. HILL

      Critics of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) complain that it imposes unrealistic performance expectations on public schools and then forces school districts to find alternative placements for children in schools that fall short.¹ Behind these provisions, critics claim, is a political strategy that will brand public schools as failures, thereby opening the door for charter schools and other forms of school choice, including vouchers.

      Defenders claim that NCLB only creates logical consequences for performance based on long-established principles of standards-based reform policies that had already been enacted in forty-nine of the fifty states. These policies set standards for student achievement...

    • 9 The Peculiar Politics of No Child Left Behind
      (pp. 253-285)

      The modern era is considered one of the most politically polarized in history. On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans frequently engage in highly charged ideological battles. A notable divergence from the strident partisanship occurred in 2001 as a left-right coalition formed that successfully steered the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) through Congress. When President Bush signed the bill into law in January 2002, Senator Edward M. Kennedy stood by his side. Four years later, NCLB faces stiff resistance from state and local authorities. Ironically, given the bipartisan support for the law, the rebellion against NCLB also seems to come...

    • 10 NCLB Lessons Learned: Implications for Reauthorization
      (pp. 286-324)

      After nearly forty years of watching Title I and consuming the results of its various evaluations, it was a treat to be given the assignment of serving as rapporteur for the February 2006 University of Wisconsin conference “Will Standards-Based Reform in Education Help Close the Poverty Gap?” Conference organizers Adam Gamoran and Maria Cancian asked me to go beyond reflecting on the findings of the conference to offer guidance about future directions for NCLB. What follows is my response.

      In the spring of 2006, NCLB was in its infancy, too early for a direct test of its implementation and effects....

  6. About the Editor and Authors
    (pp. 325-328)
  7. Index
    (pp. 329-340)