The 1980s brought a new reform movement in education, accompanied by a new emphasis on testing. The effort to improve education at all levels included the use of standardized tests to provide accountability for what students are learning. Minimum competency tests, achievement tests, and screening instruments were used to ensure that students from preschool through college reached the desired educational goals and achieved the minimum standards of education that were established locally or by the state education agency. As we continue in a new century, these concerns have increased.
Trends in a New Century
In the 1990s many schools improved the learning environment and achievement for all children; nevertheless, a large percentage of schools were still low performing in 2000 and 2001. Inadequate funding, teacher shortages, teachers with inadequate training, aging schools, and poor leadership affected quality education (Wortham, 2002). During the 2000 presidential campaign, candidate George W. Bush named quality education as one of the goals of his presidency. After his election, President Bush worked for legislation that would improve education for all children. After months of dialogue and debate, Congress passed a new education actin December 2001. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), signed into law onJanuary 8, 2002, had an impact on testing required by individual states. In addition to other provisions, all states were required to administer tests developed by the state and to set and monitor adequate yearly progress (Moscosco, 2001; Wortham, 2002). Former President Bush was also committed to strengthening early childhood programs. In 2002, several projects were conducted to support early childhood programs. Under the Sunshine Schools program, the U.S. Department of Education focused on what is working in early childhood education and gave attention to highly effective state, district, city,