Beatrice F. Birman et al., The Current Operation of the Chapter 1 Program (1987)

This study of Chapter 1 (Title I) was commissioned by by the Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (formerly the National Institute of Education).

The report was produced by Department of Education staff and researchers at private sector firms, such as Policy Study Associates. Congress mandated this study be done in December 1983.

A big finding of this study was that only a small proportion of students served by Chapter 1, the centerpiece of the Elementary and Secondary Eduction Act of 1965,were achieving at the levels that other American children were.

The full citation is Beatrice F. Birman et al., The Current Operation of the Chapter 1 Program: Final Report from the National Assessment of Chapter 1 (Washington: GPO, 1987).


Andrew Rotherham, Toward Performance-Based Federal Education Funding (1999)

This April 1999 study was written by Andrew Rotherham for the Progressive Policy Institute.  Rotherham served as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the Clinton administration.  He went on to found Education Sector, a thinktank, and Bellwether Education Partners.

This study is significant because it was made by a Democrat who argued in favor of restructuring the Title I program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  (republicans long had criticized Title I as wasteful and ineffective.)

In short, Rotherham argued for reducing federal red tape and mandates (which states favored) in exchange for states testing their students.  The logic was potent and became dominant in federal education policy—if states received education funding, they ought to show how effectively they are utilizing it.  This thinking is part and parcel of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The Improving America’s School’s Act of 1994

On October 20, 1994, the Improving America’s Schools Act (P.L. 103-382; 108 Stat. 3518) became law.

It significantly revised the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It was the last major alteration of the law before the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Below is a copy of the law as enacted—it is not the statute from the U.S. Statutes At- Large.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; P.L 107-110; 115 Stat. 1425) on January 8, 2002.  NCLB is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).   The original ESEA was 32 pages long; NCLB is 670 pages long.

The full text of the No Child Left Behind Act is accessible in the window below, and you also can see and download it at

Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education Standards

Order from: or Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Summary. Presidents from two parties, supported by parents, teachers, and civic leaders have tried and generally failed to increase student achievement through federal policymaking.  Supposedly path-breaking legislation to “leave no child behind” has hardly made a dent in the problem.

What is going on? Well… (read more)