K-12 Education

CSG South

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act celebrated its sixth anniversary on January 8, 2008, four months beyond the date on which it was due for reauthorization. NCLB is the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which has guided federal education policy since its first passage in 1965. The sweeping legislation, passed with bipartisan support, has become a galvanizing political issue. It is appropriate and necessary that state legislators are a part of the debate on reauthorizing the Act. Education is the single largest budget item for almost all states, and there are few other pieces of federal legislation that have had such an impact on state educational expenditures and policy as NCLB. Over the past several years, the Education Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference has held a number of discussions on the Act and its implications for state policy. From these reflections on the Act and its impacts on states it is possible to draw some conclusions for guiding the reauthorization and continued implementation of NCLB.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Council of State Governments calls upon the federal education policymakers to work closely with state and local education officials during NCLB reauthorization to examine how NCLB is working in their communities and where improvements are needed, while maintaining a focus on accountability and standards. At the same time the federal government must live up to its commitment and provide the necessary financial resources to implement the mandates in NCLB by fully funding Title I programs to low-income school districts, Teacher Quality Grants, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and other important programs under NCLB.

This Act provides for scholarships for public school students with disabilities to attend other public or private schools. It provides for qualifications and criteria for the scholarship program and establishes certain requirements for schools that participate in the scholarship program.

Suggested State Legislation:  This Act allows colleges and universities to offer programs to enable qualified students to earn a high school diploma while earning credits for a certificate program, an associate's or a baccalaureate degree. This Act also establishes a Double Up for College Dual High School-College Credit Program enabling high schools to offer at least two dual credit and advanced placement courses each year to high school students.

CSG South

Education often is the primary concern for legislators in the United States. During the past 50 years, the responsibility of the states to provide a fulfilling education for every one of its children has increased dramatically. Within the Southern Legislative Conference, it is most often the state government that carries the heaviest financial burden for providing the proper foundation, environment, and standards for the future leaders of its territory and the greater nation.

This report focuses specifically on eight key statistics and issues of the 16 Southern states: Financial Overview, Expenditures, Division of Total Student Body, Special Groups, Sources of Local Revenue for Public School Systems, State Contribution toward K-12 Education, Historical Court Cases, and Recent Legislation.

CSG South

The United States spends an enormous amount of money on education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, total public expenditures for K-12 education in 2000 was nearly $373 billion. The United States is at the top of the industrialized world in per pupil expenditures on education. Most of this money—more than 90 percent in most states—is from state and local sources. Education is the single largest categorical expenditure in state budgets throughout the South and, as enrollment has risen, the costs related to educating the nation’s youth have grown. This report summarizes the current school finance systems for the 16-member states of the SLC.

CSG South

Every year, states anxiously await the announcement of their students’ performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test I (SAT), largely because these scores provide a yardstick for measuring progress toward school improvement and for assessing student performance. Alongside state assessments, the SAT often is cited as a benchmark toward the end goal of raising student achievement. But the information provided by SAT scores is more complex than the customary ranking of state composite scores by news organizations and the resulting crowing or hand wringing over high or low results. The SAT, like the other major college entrance exam the ACT, is a self-selecting assessment. Participation is not universal among all students and, indeed, it is generally taken by students who intend to continue to a four-year college. For these reasons, the SAT provides an excellent source of information about how well states compare in preparing students for college-level work in a broad range of contexts. This Regional Resource analyzes results from the 2003 SAT I, with particular attention to how students in various subsets perform compared to their peers in other states and to other subgroups within their state.

Teaching quality seems likely to remain a state concern for the long-term, even though policymakers will come to see, if they haven't already, that it isn't a magic bullet. The impetus for that continued focus comes not only from the states’ pressing needs for well-qualified teachers, but also from the federal government.


Editor’s Note: The following is the executive summary of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, prepared by the U.S. Department of Education on January 7, 2002. More detailed information and the text of the act are available through the department’s Web site at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/esea/index.html.