Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The George W. Bush Years: NCLB - Key Questions
In the presidential election of 2004, President George Bush defeated Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Neither NCLB nor any other education policies were prominent in the campaign. Kerry had voted for NCLB and gained no traction on any education policies that he tried to contrast with those of the president. NCLB provided an education record that supported the president, and congressional Republicans, in an election focused overwhelmingly on the war in Iraq.
During 2005, the U.S. Department of Education expanded efforts to work with states on incremental adjustments to implementing NCLB. Increased numbers of schools were identified as failing and in need of improvement on the path to 100% proficiency in 2014. No changes were made in the law.
After four years of NCLB implementation, several large questions began to shape preparation for the next reauthorization of NCLB-ESEA, which was due in 2007 but was not undertaken by Congress before the end of the Bush Administration. Is this major federal education strategy, which focuses on standards, assessments, and accountability, succeeding? Is student performance rising, are the schools better, and will 100% proficiency be achieved by 2014? If there have been unintended negative consequences of NCLB, what are they, and how can they be remedied? If the overall strategy needs revision, what midcourse corrections are needed, and how might the administration, Congress, states, and localities shape them?