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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

2005 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Background

In the “Joint Organizational Statement on ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act,” submitted to Congress on October 21, 2004, the National Council of Teachers of English together with 64 other organizations affirm the Act’s goals of closing the achievement gap and promoting academic success for all children. We believe that state and local governments, with support from the federal government, play critical roles in attaining these goals. We endorse the use of a robust accountability system that, instead of narrowing the curriculum, promotes the development of students who can communicate effectively, solve problems, think creatively, work collaboratively, and who are self-directed and socially responsible.

The Joint Organizational Statement also identifies significant, constructive corrections necessary to making the Act fair and effective.

Among these concerns are: over-emphasizing standardized testing, narrowing curriculum and instruction to focus on test preparation rather than richer academic learning; over-identifying schools in need of improvement; using sanctions that do not help improve schools; inappropriately excluding low-scoring children in order to boost test results; and inadequate funding. Overall, 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. (see http://www.nea.org/presscenter/nclbjointstatement.html)

Resolution

In preparation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), be it resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English urge Congress and the U.S. Department of Education to

  • include the respected voices of English language arts teachers and teacher educators as advisors at every stage of the reauthorization process;
  • support policies that reward rather than punish teachers who choose to work in the nation’s most challenging schools;
  • abandon impoverished assessment systems and support the development of multiple tools that measure the complexity of student literacy learning; and
  • shift the focus from packaged reading programs to initiatives that respect teachers’ expertise in educating all children to read and write.

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