Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 2006 Issue »

    No Child Left Behind and High School Reform

    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Although No Child Left Behind (NCLB) aims to close the achievement gap that parallels race and class, some of its key provisions are at odds with reforms that are successfully overhauling the large, comprehensive high schools that traditionally have failed students of color and low-income students in urban areas. While small, restructured schools are improving graduation and college attendance rates, NCLB accountability provisions create counterincentives that encourage higher dropout and push-out rates for low-achieving students (especially English language learners), create obstacles to staffing that allow for greater personalization, and discourage performance assessments that cultivate higher-order thinking and performance abilities. In this article, Linda Darling-Hammond proposes specific amendments to NCLB that could help achieve the goal of providing high-quality, equitable education for all students by recruiting highly qualified teachers and defining such teachers in appropriate ways; by rethinking the accountability metrics for calculating adequate yearly progress so that schools have incentives to keep students in school rather than pushing them out; and by encouraging the use of performance assessments that can motivate ambitious intellectual work.

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    Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, where she has launched the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute and the School Redesign Network. She was previously William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she was the founding executive director of the National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of teaching quality, school reform, and educational equity. Among her more than two hundred publications are Powerful Teacher Education (2006), The Right to Learn (2001), and Teaching as the Learning Profession (coedited with G. Sykes, 1999).

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    Winter 2006 Issue


    Foreword (full text)
    Senator Edward M. Kennedy
    Introduction to Assessing NCLB (full text)
    The Editors
    No Child Left Behind
    The Ongoing Movement for Public Education Reform
    Rod Paige
    From New Deal to No Deal
    No Child Left Behind and the Devolution of Responsibility for Equal Opportunity
    Harvey Kantor and Robert Lowe
    Will NCLB Improve or Harm Public Education?
    John W. Borkowski and Maree Sneed
    Domesticating a Revolution
    No Child Left Behind Reforms and State Administrative Response
    Gail L. Sunderman and Gary Orfield
    Real Improvement for Real Students
    Test Smarter, Serve Better
    Betty J. Sternberg
    Why Connecticut Sued the Federal Government over No Child Left Behind
    Richard Blumenthal
    Getting Ruby a Quality Public Education
    Forty-Two Years of Building the Demand for Quality Public Schools through Parental and Public Involvement
    Arnold F. Fege
    Accountability without Angst?
    Public Opinion and No Child Left Behind
    Frederick M. Hess
    Forces of Accountability?
    The Power of Poor Parents in NCLB
    John Rogers
    No Child Left Behind and High School Reform
    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Troubling Images of Teaching in No Child Left Behind
    Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Susan Lytle
    High School Students’ Perspectives on the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act’s Definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher
    Veronica Garcia, with Wilhemina Agbemakplido, Hanan Abdella, Oscar Lopez Jr., and Rashida T. Registe
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