President Bush expressed his position that "too many of our neediest children are being left behind," despite the nearly $200 billion in Federal spending since the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. He placed an emphasis on his values and beliefs that public schooling has the potential to allow all students to achieve their academic potential. As a result the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law on January 8, 20021. This policy specifically addressed the social problem that there were achievement gaps between non-minority students and those of minority racial groups, economically disadvantaged students, students who are not proficient in the English language, and physically disadvantaged students.
Figure 1: Data showing a trend of increased funding for education, and achievement results. The achievement results were typically consistent with the trends across the groups for science, math, and reading.2
The problem of underachievement in public schooling has long been an issue of concern.
In 1965 the Elementary and Secondary Education Act became law which focused funding based on the number of disadvantaged students in a local school district, not necessarily proficiency data. Standards-based reform was initiated in 1994 when President Clinton reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with the Improving America's Schools Act. It was then that the problem was defined as a low achievement across all children, but also did specify economically disadvantaged and English limited children--not racial differences. Once standard based testing came about, observable signs became apparent of racial, economic, and disadvantaged student differences in proficiency testing as seen in Figure 1. This led to the reforms that we now see in the No Child Left Behind Act.
Potential causes of the achievement gap, as defined by "No Child Left Behind", are due to past limited accountability of...