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New Report: 50 Years of ‘Fed Ed’ Has Failed to Close Achievement Gap

Apr 14, 2019 by

by Karen R. Effrem, MD –

New data continues to confirm what has been obvious for decades: federal interference in education since 1965 has failed to improve the academic achievement of poor children. This difference between students from higher and lower income families, dubbed “the achievement gap” by experts and policy makers, has remained stubbornly persistent for fifty years.

A History of Fed Ed: From ESEA to Common Core

That federal interference started with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which began compensatory grants for poor children in K-12, and Head Start, the federal preschool program, both passed in 1965. Both laws, plus the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), started out relatively benignly with all sorts of comforting language about how the federal government was not going to interfere in local autonomy regarding curriculum, etc.

However, both federal education laws have gradually increased the iron grip of federal control over states and school districts over the last fifty years. These three statutory provisions protecting local control have essentially been ignored.

First, the feds imposed statewide standards and tests on states as a prerequisite for federal funds in the 1994 reauthorization of ESEA, called the Improving America’s Schools Act. Not only did they take away school district autonomy in choosing standards and tests, but they also required those standards to comply with the federal Goals 2000 standards. Goals 2000 was an intensification of federal control of both state and federal pre-K programs that had to comply with Head Start — and also marked the first time that “social emotional learning” appeared in the federal education lexicon.

Then came the 2001 version of ESEA, called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). It ratcheted up federal control even more by requiring statewide tests in math and English/reading every year in grades 3-8 and science once in elementary, middle, and high school. SEL and preschool elements from the 1994 bill also survived in the new version. However, the worst part of NCLB was the completely unrealistic 100-percent proficiency requirement in math and English by 2014 for every subgroup under the threat of districts losing federal funding.

Years later, the Obama administration then used that threat plus the Great Recession to bribe/coerce states into adopting Common Core via illegal waivers and the Race to the Top grant program, all well explained in the white paper by Robert Eitel and Kent Talbert: “The Road to a National Curriculum — The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers.”

A Long Record of Failure

We have all seen what an academic disaster Common Core has been. The academic decline of American students related to Common Core was both predicted and has been thoroughly documented by university professors like mathematician James Milgram, English standards expert Sandra Stotsky, and literature professor Mark Bauerlein, all of whom were involved in the Common Core development process but spoke out against the inferior standards at the time.

continue: New Report: 50 Years of ‘Fed Ed’ Has Failed to Close Achievement Gap | The National Pulse

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  1. Avatar

    It’s time to to shut down the National Education Association before they completely destroy everything associated with education. Outlaw teachers unions. They have been a major contributor to the demise of public education. Charter schools and private have proven to be much more effective educators.

  2. Avatar

    The research based and evidence based conclusion from an examination of long-term NAEP results, PISA, and PIACC must clearly be that top-down federal initiatives are useless.
    But wait, that’s too kind. In reality there would have been lots more innovation and some much better ideas if federal mandates had not stomped out the fire of innovation in the field of education. How long will it take us to recover?

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