The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is among our nation’s most critical federal civil rights measures. NCLB was signed into law on January 8, 2002 and reauthorized a number of federal programs aimed at improving the performance of U.S. primary and secondary schools. It helps promote equity in U.S. public education by holding schools, school districts, and states accountable for the academic achievement of all students, including English language learners (ELLs).
MALDEF believes that while the goals and principles of NCLB are sound, implementation of the law has been inadequate in many respects. Although NCLB promises ELLs a measure of academic parity with their peers and is meant to address the effects of limited English proficiency upon academic performance, ELLs’ academic performance levels are still significantly below those of their peers in nearly every measure of academic performance.
Significant implementation failures and underfunding by federal and state agencies have severely hindered the effectiveness of NCLB for ELLs. MALDEF believes that for NCLB to reduce or eliminate academic gaps, officials at all levels of government — federal, state, and local — must commit to better serving the ELL student population.
MALDEF Regional Counsel Testifies Before Congress on Promise and Shortcomings of NCLB for English Language Learners
ELL students require assessments tailored to specific academic
and linguistic needs
March 23, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Peter Zamora, Washington, DC Regional Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Co-Chair of the Hispanic Education Coalition, testified before the House Education and Labor Committee, Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on the Impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on English Language Learners (ELLs).
There are currently between 5 and 6 million English language learners enrolled in U.S. public schools, constituting over 10% of our total public school population. ELLs’ academic performance levels are significantly below those of their peers in nearly every measure of academic performance. ELLs face the dual challenge of learning English while simultaneously gaining academic knowledge in an unfamiliar language.
“Congress must provide additional support to states in the development and implementation of appropriate academic and linguistic assessments for ELLs,” stated Zamora. “Both the federal government and the states must do much more to implement native language, simplified English, portfolio, and other assessments designed specifically to measure ELLs’ academic knowledge and English proficiency.”
Zamora concluded, “For NCLB to reduce or eliminate academic achievement gaps, officials at all levels of government — federal, state, and local — must commit to better serving the ELL student population.”
A full copy of Zamora’s statement is available upon request.
MALDEF Recoginizes Fifth Anniverary of No Child Left Behind Act
Federal promise to reduce educational inequality
January 08, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC — The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) today recognizes the fifth anniversary of The No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law on January 8th, 2002. The law, which is due to be renewed by the incoming Congress, is the main federal education statute that addresses educational inequality in U.S. public schools.
“Latinos are nearly one-fifth of America’s public school children, and No Child Left Behind is critical to their academic success,” stated John Trasviña, MALDEF’s President and General Counsel. “No Child Left Behind must be carefully reviewed and funded by Congress and President Bush. MALDEF will do its part — especially by preparing parents through our Parent-School Partnership to take an increased role in their children’s education — to set the path for the nation’s future.”
“No Child Left Behind has focused increased attention upon Latino education concerns, but inadequate funding and poor implementation have hindered the law’s effectiveness,” commented Peter Zamora, MALDEF’s Acting Washington, D.C. Regional Counsel. “As we recognize the law’s fifth anniversary and prepare for its upcoming renewal, we urge policymakers and educators to maintain high academic standards and expectations for all students. MALDEF will work with Congress and the Administration to approve legislation that will satisfy our nation’s commitment to educational opportunity.”