More than 100 Groups Sign on to NCLB Joint Statement

K-12 Testing
More than 100 national civil rights, education, disability advocacy, and religious groups have now signed on to the "Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB," calling for major changes to the federal education law. FairTest staff initiated and chaired the meetings that produced the statement, originally released in October 2004. The statement's central message is that "the law's emphasis needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement." The number of organizations signing the statement has nearly quadrupled since it was launched in late 2004 and continues to grow. The goal is to influence Congress, and the broader public, as the law's scheduled reauthorization approaches.


The fact that there are now more than 100 organizational signers, with more added each week, illustrates a growing consensus that NCLB needs fundamental change to achieve its laudable goals of reducing gaps in achievement and improving educational quality.


FairTest is now coordinating the Forum on Education Accountability (FEA), which includes many of the Joint Statement signers. The FEA is crafting detailed proposals on professional teacher preparation and family involvement to implement the statement's recommendations. In addition, the FEA has asked a panel of academic experts to review NCLB's assessment and accountability provisions and propose changes to ensure that the federal education law has helpful rather than harmful educational consequences. The reports and detailed proposals will be released in the next several months.


The Joint Statement outlines 14 recommended changes to NCLB including:


* Replace over-reliance on standardized tests with the use of multiple achievement measures in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of student and school performance;


* Supplant arbitrary proficiency targets with ambitious achievement targets based on rates of success actually achieved by the most effective public schools;


* Authorize interventions that enable schools to make changes that result in improved student achievement instead of sanctions that do not have a consistent record of success;


* Enhance the knowledge and skills teachers, administrators and families need to support high student achievement and improve state and district capacity to assist them;


* Increase NCLB funding to cover a substantial percentage of the costs that states and districts will incur to carry out these recommendations;


Among the 100 organizational signers are the Children's Defense Fund, Council for Exceptional Children, League of United Latin American Citizens, Learning Disabilities Association, NAACP, FairTest, National Council of Churches, National Education Association, National Parent-Teacher Association, National School Boards Association, National Urban League, People for the American Way, and United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.


NCLB was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002. It is scheduled for Congressional review and reauthorization in 2007.


The "Joint Organizational Statement" and a current list of its signers are online at the new Forum for Educational Accountability website,


* link to Washington Post piece in which FEA is the key respondent to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings: