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NCREL® Helps Educators Leave No Child BehindConference Aids Implementation of New Federal Policy
September 18, 2002
Naperville, IL—More than 100 representatives from state and local education agencies, and education service agencies gathered in Naperville today to attend a Capacity-Building Conference on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. President Bush's education reform package, passed earlier this year, has set stringent standards for the American education system, and NCREL is striving to help educators comply.
Susan Sclafani, counselor to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, was the keynote speaker and discussed the provisions of NCLB for accountability, expanded parental choice, and research-based practices.
"The urgency of changing from ineffective practices is written in the eyes of our students," stated Sclafani.
NCREL brought in experts to facilitate workshops on topics that educators have cited as the most challenging elements of the legislation. "Our partners in the state education agencies have helped us identify Reading First, collecting and disaggregating data, assessment and testing, systems of support, and teacher/paraprofessional obligations as five of the most challenging components of the legislation," said Sabrina Laine, Ph.D., NCREL associate director.
"I believe people left the conference with a lot more information about the act and a plan for implementation. State education agency staff have a good handle on the requirements of NCLB, but as we talk to local education agency staff, intermediate agency staff, district superintendents, principals, and teachers, the level of understanding gets much hazier," Laine remarked.
A unique feature of the conference was a series of roundtable discussions for participants with similar professional roles. "One of the most meaningful ways to learn is by talking to other people who are trying to accomplish the same things. We created a lot of time for NCLB coordinators from each state—as well as assessment and data staff, and support and service personnel—to talk with each other," said Laine. "Many of them found new opportunities for leveraging resources to more effectively build capacity in response to NCLB."
Since passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in January, NCREL has worked to align its products and services to provide educators and policymakers with easy-to-follow, accurate information. "We created online resources such as a synthesized version of the legislation, an implementation timeline, and links to a variety of other resources," explained Laine. In July 2002, NCREL hosted a two-day "Dialogue on Critical Components of No Child Left Behind" that was attended by state superintendents and state-level policymakers across the Midwest.