Cover: Working Smarter to Leave No Child Behind

Working Smarter to Leave No Child Behind

Practical Insights for School Leaders

Published 2003

by Brian M. Stecher, Laura S. Hamilton, Gabriella C. Gonzalez


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The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is more inclusive than any previous federal school-reform legislation. Accountability based on student test results lies at the heart of NCLB, which requires states to set academic standards for all students, establish increasing annual targets for student performance, provide suitable assistance to schools to enable improvement, and offer educational alternatives for families with children in schools that have not shown adequate improvement despite assistance. NCLB assumes that districts and schools can solve their problems if given proper incentives and technical assistance. Yet other factors come into play over which schools have no control, such as the children's environment outside school and funding issues. So, success may not be simple. This paper offers guidance to the state policymakers, district administrators, and school principals who must implement NCLB. It presents RAND's synthesis of the evidence on educational accountability systems and describes the NCLB accountability model, discusses its underlying assumptions, and offers educators specific recommendations for effective operation in an era of accountability.

The research described in this white paper was supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and conducted within RAND Education.

This report is part of the RAND white paper series. The white paper was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003 and was meant to convey formally information on a policy issue and to summarize key research findings relevant to pending decisions or policy problems. White Papers drew on a strong body of research and were directed to a specific audience.

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