Could No Child Left Behind become Every Child Counts?

American schools have squirmed under the heel of No Child Left Behind for a decade now.

Are they ready for a sleeker, less onerous model of education reform, an Every Child Counts law?

That may be coming, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Sen. Mike Enzi R-Wyo., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Congress is about to delve into a rewrite of the controversial No Child Left Behind law that was the signature legislation of the Bush White House. In a media conference today,  the Senate education leaders joined Duncan in pushing for greater flexibility, increased state and local control and a federal focus on the bottom 5 percent of the nation’s schools.

The suggestion was also made for a new name for the much-disparaged No Child law, which dramatically enlarged the federal presence in the American schoolhouse.

Enzi said there’s support for simply falling back on the admittedly bland generic name for the education funding bill, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. “That will come out later as we figure it out,” he said.

But it was clear that Harkin has already given a new name some thought, something along the lines of “Every Child Counts.”

“Every child needs to have the opportunity to learn and progress,” said the Iowa senator. “It seems to me that what we are talking about is every child counts.”

Most of the call consisted of the senators and Duncan endorsing a better balance between federal goals in education and local attempts to meet those goals. “We want to be an engine of innovation rather than a compliance-driven bureaucracy,” said Duncan.

“I don’t want us to become a national school board. I support national standards but I don’t think the federal government should set them,” said Alexander, a former education secretary.

“Last night, President Obama clearly signaled his commitment to education and his desire to fix No Child Left Behind,” said Duncan. “We all agree that NCLB has many flaws, from mislabeling to overreach to lowering standards,” said Duncan. “On many issues, Democrats and Republicans share a common-sense agenda. We all want a fair accountability system. Nobody likes labeling schools as failing even as they are making significant gains.”

While No Child is credited with forcing schools to pay attention to minorities and students with special needs, long ignored in many classrooms, it is also blamed for the testing frenzy that now grips U.S. schools.

No Child Left Behind mandated annual testing against targeted goals. If schools didn’t reach their goals and missed making Adequate Yearly Progress, they faced escalating consequences, from offering tutoring and transfers to a complete restaffing of the school.

“We are committed to recognizing schools, districts and states showing great progress,” said Duncan. “We need laws that provide most schools with flexibility on how to improve and accelerate student achievement,” said Duncan. “We support a narrowing, more targeted role for the federal government.”

One of the major flaws of No Child, according to Duncan, was that it overburdened schools with process while setting fuzzy goals.

“It was tight on how you got there, but loose on the goals,”  he said.

Changes in the law must fix the punitive accountability system, target interventions to lower performing schools, return more control to locals and advance teacher evaluation tools, said Harkin. (To the delight of parents, the senator also called for a well-rounded curriculum for American schools, including arts, music and physical education.)

Enzi said there are serious shortcomings in the law that need to be modified.

Among them:

- Sanctions in the law negatively impact rural schools more, as do the requirements to have highly qualified teachers in all classrooms. Rural schools are often a great distance from other schools, and that poses problems with the law’s provision permitting students at failing schools to attend other schools.

–Local flexibility is limited, and the use of federal dollars is too restrictive. “We have a one-size-fits-all mentality in it. And parents are feeling they are left out of the equation,” said Enzi.

–The 100 percent proficiency goal by 2013-2014 is unrealistic.

–The dozens and dozens of performance measures for Adequate Yearly Progress result in every school getting a failing grade at some point, said Enzi.

– “There is too much testing and nobody knows what results mean,” he said.

In taking media questions, the Republicans and the Democrats predicted that the divided Congress can come together on education. “From meetings we had, in the 10 hearings that Sen. Harkin mentioned, there has been a lot of agreement,” said Alexander. “Every major education bill has been bi-partisan and that has been since the early 60s.”

–Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get School Board

49 comments Add your comment


January 26th, 2011
12:18 pm

Every child counts – unless he/she doesn’t fall into the favored category of the moment, or unless his parents have other ideas on education other than those approved by the state, or unless his parents would rather spend their hard earned money on educating THIER child instead of everyone elses, and the list could go on and on. Every child counts until government gets involved. Then the only thing that counts is government power and control. The sooner parents finally figure that out, the sooner every child will actually count.

Inman Park Boy

January 26th, 2011
12:43 pm

Education should be a local matter. There is little or no expertise in the U. S. Congress when it comes to developing education strategy or policy that will work well in every nook and cranny of this nation. Generally, the local school boards get it right most of the time. Leave it to them. It’s called the Principle of Subsidiarity, or, let he who is closest to the problem solve it.


January 26th, 2011
12:43 pm

As someone who teaches in a rural system, I agree that NCLB has unfairly punished these systems. Our resources are extremely limited, both financially and geographically. I found this comment to be especially amusing,

“He called for a well-rounded curriculum for American schools, including arts, music and physical education.”

Thanks to years of underfunding QBE and current funding cuts coupled with an almost nonexistent tax base, our tiny system is faced with the possiblity of eliminating a career area next year. We currently offer physical education, band, agriculture/construction, and engineering/drafting. There has been no chorus, no drama, no art, no health occupations offered in years.

I wonder which program Arne Duncan et al. would recommend we eliminate?

Teacher Reader

January 26th, 2011
12:48 pm

Until the government and unions gets out of the education business, our children will be left behind. The problem with education as I see it, is that many make millions off of our children and our children are still not getting a quality education to be able to compete with others around the world.


January 26th, 2011
12:52 pm

I definitely think that NCLB needs to be gone. And the Dept of Ed should be eliminated – how many billions of dollars have we wasted, only to have education standards decrease? We are doing no favors to our children.
Seriously – maybe we should go back to the basics, and follow some other education models. Unless and until we can educate students in science, math, social studies and english properly, perhaps all that ‘other stuff’ (art, music, etc) should be gone. Many countries do this. And it’s up to the parents to get the kids their ‘arts’ education. Why stretch systems thin when they then do a horrible job of everything?


January 26th, 2011
12:54 pm

@teacher reader: because the point isn’t to educate the children. I have only found the teachers to be concerned about that. All those administrators, etc, don’t really care all that much.


January 26th, 2011
1:18 pm

If government gets out of the education business, who takes over? Private companies? They, by definition, are in business to make money.

SouthGA teacher

January 26th, 2011
1:43 pm

So please enlighten me which countries that are farther ahead of us have eliminated art and music from their school programs? I think we all know if we leave it to parents to educate their children in art and music the vast majority will not pay for any instruction in these areas. Why pay for piano lessons when they need to by their beer and cigarettes for the week? Think of all the artists and musicians who came out of impoverished backgrounds that would never have known their abilities if it wasn’t for a school arts program. Oh, and in case your wondering, I teach Social Studies…I’d love to hear what the arts teachers would have to say!

SouthGA teacher

January 26th, 2011
1:44 pm

and I meant buy and not by…by the way:)


January 26th, 2011
1:49 pm

The key points are:
The 64-part formula for Adequate Yearly Progress results in every school getting a failing grade at some point, said Enzi.

–Too much testing and nobody knows what results mean

CRCT is a joke. It does not measure teacher competency or a school’s competency. How can you possibly compare two teachers teaching two different groups of , say 4th graders (or two schools teaching two different sets of three 4th grade classes)–or the same teacher/school over two years with different student cohorts– with one instrument? There are clearly too many variables for a valid 1:1 comparison.
But we base EVERYTHING–school transfers, mountains of anxiety and vitriol over redistricting–one this one meaningless waste of a week in April.


January 26th, 2011
1:52 pm

I want the federal government out of the education business. It does not make sense that they confiscate our hard earned money, take it to Washington, then decide how much we “need” to get back. Let our local people decide how to run the schools.

Attentive Parent

January 26th, 2011
1:53 pm

This link is pertinent both to effects of federal education spending so far and especially what it has done to science achievement in this country.

As it details the long term NAEP (which stays consistent in what is asked) showed a consistent decline between 1974, start date, and 1999 in science achievement. It looked bad so the NAGB stopped giving the test. No explanation.

The other NAEP where the format changes as desired to get at what goes on in the classroom or to make the results look better also showed a decline.

As noted by Maureen in yesterday’s posting the NAGB has now changed the test so no more comparisons can be made.

How convenient now that national science standards are being drafted under Common Core and there is a call for renewed federal spending on STEM.


January 26th, 2011
1:58 pm

“The 64-part formula for Adequate Yearly Progress”

Sounds like a 64 part formula for disaster.


January 26th, 2011
2:17 pm

I like “Every Child Can Skip Count: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10,….”

This would give a huge boost to improving math fact memorization as well as math and science scores.

Up (on)
(GULAG-free schools) This policy would promote moving appropriate students into the trades/career track by 9th grade.


January 26th, 2011
2:25 pm

I like any change in the law that realizes the insanity of believing every child can achieve at grade level. Why, in these modern times, we have a law on the books that mandates every child….regardless of IQ or native language can peform at grade level is beyond comprehension.

Do parents really understand that NCLB mandates a child new to this country in August must perform at grade level by April?

Do parents really understand that by 2014 one immigrant enrolling in your school in August could keep your school from making AYP?

Do parents understand that we are testing children and expecting them to perform at grade level even though many have IQ’s in the 50’s, cannot speak and cannot read?

For the last ten years educators have been wondering when the electorate will wake up and see the inanity of this law!


January 26th, 2011
2:28 pm

re: “Elementary and Secondary Education Act” Hmm … ESEA … E-Sea … oh wait …. Easy. Looks like they’ve got a perfect name for this already, because that’s what is almost certainly intended, as in “Let’s make it EASY to throw more taxpayer dollars down the dry hole of public ‘education’ without any real attempt at accountability”.


January 26th, 2011
2:30 pm

It is probably a good idea for the federal DOE to focus its attention on the bottom 5 (or 10 or 15%) of schools. As long as people perceive their schools are “succeeding,” they will resist any change – why fix them when they are not broken. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are really broken – it is their perception. By focusing on the bottom 5%, it is more likely that everyone will agree that they need fixing.

RE: rural schools – maybe if the focus is on fixing “failing” schools instead of punishing them, it won’t be a problem.


January 26th, 2011
2:40 pm

Why does it continue to be an either/or proposition when it comes to reading, math, science, social studies and Arts?? And PE, vocational training, etc., for that matter? Why can’t we see the value in teaching integrated content? When students study visual art they certainly can be learning history, math and science. When reading quality literature, is social studies not also relevant in many cases? I can go on forever pointing out the overlaps and connections. I am really hoping for conversations that incorporate collaboration among content areas. All are vital to ensure we raise creative, learned, capable adults.


January 26th, 2011
2:45 pm

“We want to be an engine of innovation rather than a compliance-driven bureaucracy,” said Duncan..

Interpretation: Do what you want, call it innovation, and we’ll back you….as long as you comply with the beauracracy attached to the money we’ll give you. All they’re doing is setting up the next episode of NCLB- only now they’re tying our pay to it (which is what the DOE has been after for years).


January 26th, 2011
2:57 pm

There is no way every child will achieve at the same level. Do you really think the child with the reading disability will score the same as the child who reads voraciously? Do you really think children from all homes where jail time is not an embarrassment are going to succeed at the same levels as the children whose parents both in the home, both interested and devoted to the education/welfare of the children? Students today get into the middle school grades without knowing the times table. Ask a middle school student what 6 x 9 is and he/she will draw 9 tiny groups of 6 dots and then COUNT THE DOTS to get the answer! The curriculum is a mile wide and an inch deep. Teach them multiplication tables to mastery, not just exposure to the process. Georgia may do away with cursive writing? Let me guess, it is because we are putting in Sanskrit and don’t have the time to devote to instruction in cursive?

The list of stupidity goes on and on and on….and no one listens to the teachers. The ones who know what is going on and who can help if left alone or given help when needed/asked for. Deliver me from another useless—USELESS–workshop at RESA. Those folks need to be put out to pasture. Experts? Perhaps in b.s., but certainly not subject matter.


January 26th, 2011
3:05 pm

Put every school in Georgia on the same calendar, with the same text books, the same objectives, qualified teachers and get out of the way.

Make the parents be involved or risk losing entitlements. Tie entitlements to school attendance, discipline and effort. We have parents who don’t care that their children are not in school, don’t care that they are failing, won’t come to school for a meeting with the teachers/administration. Those same parents— when the child is not allowed to play a sport, is caught with a cell phone in class, is involved in a fight—are the first ones on the doorstep and are usually there before the incident is handled….raising a ruckus because their child is being mistreated. Never mind the child hasn’t passed, hasn’t done work, and hasn’t shown up for class, etc. The school better not try to discipline him when he misbehaves! I am sick of all of them.

Cobb History Teacher

January 26th, 2011
3:30 pm


You make several excellent points. Also add in some subjects get more support (math and reading) and other subjects don’t count for retention (students read this as they don’t count) and add to that the test schedule is the same every year so the same test is first and the same test is last.
Now keep in mind I teach an age group (middle school) whose first question when given an assignment usually is: “Is this for a grade?” This implies that if it doesn’t directly affect their grade average they won’t do it. Now some may say this isn’t important. I disagree I believe it’s an excellent predictor of their work ethic. Do you do the right thing even when no one is watching?

Cobb History Teacher

January 26th, 2011
3:31 pm


I hear ya.

Frustrated and Tired Teacher

January 26th, 2011
3:32 pm

I normally try to be more positive than this, but a couple of days of no planning plus administering the writing test has made me a bit tired.

The kids have figured out that it doesn’t matter if they don’t know anything as they are passed on to the next grade anyways.

We are raising an entire generation of students who know nothing, who cannot do anything, and who do not care to know much of anything other than the characters on Jersey Shore.


January 26th, 2011
5:01 pm

I can see the bumper stickers now: “Every child counts (to ten) (unless we decide that is too hard; then we will pass them to sixth grade anyway!)

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

January 26th, 2011
5:09 pm


Call the police the next time a ruckus-raising parent shows up.

Have you shared your feelings with concerned, trustworthy colleagues? your local BOE member?

Cobb History Teacher,

You make some excellent points, too.

Frustrated and Tired Teacher,

You’re right: many kids have figured that they’ll be promoted (and graduated) whether they learn designated content or not. These kids and our society will suffer from our profession’s failure to maintain reasonable academic (and behavioral) standards in many of our public schools.


January 26th, 2011
5:16 pm

Giggles to Catlady !-)

It is my understanding that most states have signed on to Common Core standards, so it follows that assessments will foloow, which means that it should be norm referenced and therefore a suffiecient means of evaluating student performance across the nation. This would seem to eliminate the need for CRCT, GHSGT, and EOCTs, right? The Feds should give state whatever allotments they qualify for and then back off. But maybe I’m naive?


January 26th, 2011
5:19 pm

Sorry…”follow.” Dang smartphone keys!

Top School

January 26th, 2011
5:20 pm

Our children watch everything we do…and model it the next day.

You have an entire school system APS …lead by liars, cheaters and probably thieves, too.
The show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader” gives you the option to copy or cheat.

Why do you think there is a problem?


January 26th, 2011
5:23 pm

Students shouldn’t be held to one level of profiency, per all the above stated reasons. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to look at average performance and growth within the various subgroups? If a school shows significant defiecincy within, let’s say ESL students, then measures should be targeted for that specific group.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sunny Graham and Carrie Schneider, EDUBEAT. EDUBEAT said: Could No Child Left Behind become Every Child Counts?: We have No Child Left Behind. Are we ready for a sleeker,… [...]

Ole Guy

January 26th, 2011
5:58 pm

This seems to be yet another typical government reaction to failure…take a pig out of his “den” of garbage, dress him up, and teach him to croak out the new mantra. A PIG IS A PIG IS A PIG…there’s no way around that fact.

Education will NEVER improve under Federal “guidance”. The ONLY way education will ever improve is by allowing the subject matter experts to run the boat. Teachers need to be fully involved in the entire educational process; EVERY manager; EVERY administrator needs to have a hands-on educational background; EVERY lawmaker, before introducing any sort of legislation involving public education, needs to receive a thorough brief, FROM AN EDUCATOR, on the issues at hand.

Is this likely to receive the faintest of consideration? Probably not…and why? To do so would highlight the dismal ignorance which has permeated the powers that be for so long.

Go ahead, oh wise ones in Washington; commit millions…hell, you may as well make it billions…on a failed concept which will only become worse as younger generations mature, assume their lots in life, look back and wonder why their Country failed them so miserably.

Jordan Kohanim

January 26th, 2011
6:17 pm

Sadly, for many teachers the damage has been done. I know many that are leaving education because of bad legislation like NCLB (that put lots of blame on teachers). As our economy recovers, I fear many states including GA will find itself in a teacher shortage.

North Fulton AP Teacher

January 26th, 2011
7:31 pm

I concur with Jordan; sadly, many teachers (including myself) are looking to transfer into private schools or leave education entirely. Just when our department thinks “it can’t get any worse,” we get another top-down, bureaucratic order from our administration that expects us to improve scores and inspire students with less resources and more of our blood, sweat, and time.

[...] Could No Child Left Behind become Every Child Counts?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Are they ready for a sleeker, less onerous model of education reform, an Every Child Counts law? That may be coming, according to US Secretary of Education …Obama seeks to make No Child Left Behind more flexibleWashington Postall 142 news articles » [...]


January 26th, 2011
7:37 pm

Dr. Swain: my system is small. The board members do not care. We complain or comment and we are on the list.

DeKalb mom

January 26th, 2011
8:12 pm

The school choice transfer provisions destabilize urban systems also. There are so many NCLB transfers in the high schools of DeKalb County that the school enrollments are completely out-of-wack. The consultants have proposed all kinds of re-districting but it is meaningless because students can be districted to a needs improvement school and all the parents will simply fill out paperwork to move their students back to a school that has made AYP.


January 26th, 2011
8:54 pm

Education in America is totally missing the boat. Every Child Counts, simply put, means let’s not and say we did.


January 26th, 2011
11:21 pm

I would love to see ‘every child count.’ I hope that means that attention can be focused more on individual student needs and that high stakes testing (that assumes that all children are alike) will fade into the sunset.

Fire Bad Teachers

January 26th, 2011
11:56 pm

@gradstudent29 – I am tired of seeing so much energy and resources being funneled at children who are at risk of failing the CRCT. If the same was spent on average to above average students, what could those students accomplish?

Ole Guy

January 27th, 2011
1:24 am

Let’s first speak the unspeakable…NOT ALL CHILDREN COUNT! Following a collective gasp, does that truism require clarification?

First of all, I don’t give a hoot in hell about this “at risk” business. At a certain point in their lives, most-certainly by the high school years, these kids need to begin formulating the adult process of self-generation, of “feeding ones self and doing potty stuff” without the assistance of outside intervention. These kids become so reliant on help in every facet of their lives they soon so no point in exerting the least effort to solve their own issues. Unfortunately, all-too-many simply carry over, into adulthood, these very same mindsets: “let someone else take care of the problem”.

I have always advocated a certain point at which the kid has to have demonstrated attributes of wanting to learn…of respecting the opportunities of gaining a decent education. While it is unlawful for a kid to be truant, I believe, by the age of 16, the kid may quite. By the very same token, there should be established an age at which, guaging by the progress…academic, behavioral, attitudinal…to date, the kid may or may not FULLY benefit from any more educational services provided at public expense.

From what I can see, the public high schools have, in no small manner, become “holding pens” for the (let’s be brutaly honest) worthless.

Let’s stop feeding our National sense of guilt with these half-baked programs. At some point in time (examine records when colleges began turning out “highly educated NON-GRADUATES…when businesses, facing shortages of skilled workers, had to entice those skills from outside our borders) kids stopped learning/stopped WANTING to learn. And, in a convoluted way of thinking, I would have to agree. Why SHOULD anyone actually go to the effort of learning/of gaining meaningful employment/of becoming a self-sustaining adult? HELL BELLS, THE GOVERNMENT WILL TAKE CARE OF THINGS!

Got the picture, Washington? LESS (GOVERNANCE) IS MORE>

Fire Bad Teachers

January 27th, 2011
2:01 am

@ Ole Guy – Daily, I ask myself what my husband and I are doing. He works 6 days a week, 70 hours, and took three days off last year. I help with our business, homeschool the children, and spend many hours volunteering in my community. We struggled through the recession, cried over having to lay off employees, and certainly don’t have the family life we desire. We are working harder than ever and every month we have less and less (increasing insurance, fuel costs, etc.). I wonder how much longer we will bother. There seems to be no shame in taking handouts, sometimes I think he and I are fools.

[...] Associated PressTest scores at DC area schools reflect disconnect in No ChildWashington PostCould No Child Left Behind become Every Child Counts?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 155 news [...]


January 27th, 2011
8:56 am

If the US educational complex run out of Washington DC thinks that the name of a bill will have any impact on improved progress then we are doomed. Abolish the Department of Education and let local communities run the show.


January 27th, 2011
8:58 am

It seems that in order for any injustice to be overcome, it must be pulled from the dark of the closet it has been hidden in and tossed in the face of the public. There are innumerable examples of legal injustice, imprisonment and worse, before some people could drink out of our water fountains and ride on our buses…actions strongly supported by those who didn’t want to give up their advantages. Perhaps this woman’s situation will spark an honest look at the injustice of poor education for the poor allowing some changes to be made…for the better of all. But not, of course, without a lot of screaming and posturing from those who may have their cozy little advantages threatened.

teacher (maybe)

January 27th, 2011
2:45 pm

#1 Parents need to be RESPONSIBLE parents.
#2 Teachers need to be allowed to TEACH.
#3 Federal government needs to STAY OUT of it.

Ole Guy

January 27th, 2011
8:02 pm

Bad Teachers, I often look at the two distinctly opposite scenarios and wonder just who’s the smart one:

Guy #1 goes to college, makes good-to-excellent grades, get a good job, makes “too much money” to qualify for government assistance on human needs such as medical, food, and housing expenses. Guy #1 eventually goes broke trying to keep up with ever-increasing costs of living on ever-stagnating salaries.

Guy #2 may or may not be a high school grad. He will surely never be able to get a job which offers the salary/benefit package which would enable him, and his family, to enjoy a comfortable life. But it really doesn’t matter, for the government will see to it that virtually all human needs will be supplied…with the tax monies from the salary of Guy #1. The government will supply all medical needs for Guy #2, the very same medical needs for which Guy #1 will be billed. Guy #2 will receive food stamps for the very same chow that Guy #1 must pay for. If Guy #1 cannot meet his mortgage commitment, he’s in trouble. If Guy #2 experiences similar difficulties, he can probably qualify for some government assistant program specially designed for the “less fortunate”. And, of course, when Guy #1 reaches retirement age, there will probably be that much less monies in the fund because, due to government largess, Guy #2, in his 30s, 40s and so on, was able to draw on Social Security for any number of reasons which could have been mitigated had he chosen the difficult path, back in his youth, of making good grades in high school, going to college, graduating, getting a good job and (what’s that word?) WORKING!

So who’s the smart one? The one who “follows all the social rules” of success, or the lazy one who allows the “system” to hand him a diploma, give him a job, and pay for all his needs under the guise of “disadvantaged”?


January 27th, 2011
10:34 pm

If we didn’t have all these social assistance programs, it’s possible we could find Americans who would do those “jobs Americans won’t do.”

Or maybe not.

janet eades

January 28th, 2011
12:54 pm

We could spend billions and have top notch teachers in our school but if Johnny or Suzy go home to a home where education is not important all is for naught. Education starts and ends in the home. We only have these precious ones for a few hours a day and then back home they go. It has to start with the parents. I as a teacher see that.