While we must continue to press—as NCLB does—for gap closing, we must simultaneously ensure that the standards to which students strive are high enough to well prepare them for the real-world challenges of college and career. In too many states the standards are so low that meeting them does little more than send false signals of hope to students and their families. In fact, proficient in some states equates to the “below basic
Congress should not only fully fund NCLB, but also demand that states and school districts provide high-poverty schools with their fair share of state and local education dollars. For too long, Congress has been asked, through Title I, to fill in the funding gaps created by inequitable state and local school funding schemes. Congress should insist, as a condition of participation in Title I, that school districts and states stop shortchanging high-poverty schools. This step would vastly increase the resources available to these schools and the students who attend them.

No federal education law has been more maligned or misunderstood than the No Child Left Behind Act. Yet, no federal education law has accomplished more. That said, we can not rest or turn back now. More needs to be done to ensure that more students achieve more at school and that being successful at school really is the foundation for success beyond school.