Written by Patricia Hawke for

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has been making progress in the Chicago Schools just as advocates of the initiative planned.  Students who were transferred out of their failing schools have been replaced and settled into new Chicago Schools.  Based on test scores, the indications are that an improved learning environment for these students was much needed and has enhanced their scores considerably.  Even the unprecedented effects have been positive in Chicago Schools.  By transferring struggling students to well-performing schools, there was some anticipation that there would be disruption among the successful students; however, these worries were unfounded as the struggling students also made great strides of progress.
Many Chicago Schools were declared unfit in 2002 when the No Child Left Behind initiative first took hold. This meant that multitudes of students were suddenly eligible for transfer from their current school into more successful, academically established institutions.  Over 700 students went on to permanently change their school residence.  Many feel that the tracking of these students is a definite answer to the question of success in the nation wide reform: yes, NCLB can and has been successful in Chicago Schools. Although it has taken five years, proponents say that data and evidence of improvement exists. 
The only discrepancy seems to lie in the number of students allowed to transfer in Chicago Schools.  District officials initially allowed a mere fraction of the students vying for transfer to be considered for the openings.  And as the years roll on, the number of positions in high-ranking schools is dwindling even further. Chicago Schools’ officials maintain that the reason for success in Chicago Schools has been the slow progress and the refusal to engulf any individual school with transfer students. 
The benefits of this act were felt by all.  Even the students who remained in their struggling schools, opting not to take advantage of the transfer spots, still experienced improvement once their peers had switched schools.  These results indicate that student population and individual attention are closely tied into school and student success.  In Chicago Schools before the transfers began, students read at a level 24% below national average.  Afterward, students read at a level 8% above national average.  Additionally, in the area of mathematics, students before the transfers performed at a level 17% below national average. And thereafter, they performed at a level 8% above national average.  The statistical information yields impressive progress of the past five years in Chicago Schools.  While critics still have concerns over mandatory testing, they are largely appreciative of the improvements. 
In the future for Chicago Schools, however, a dark cloud does hang above the district.  The Chicago Schools are attracting the top teachers from the top schools with the highest degrees; unfortunately, these model teachers are precisely the kind most likely to leave the schools in five years time.  A study has recently shown that new teachers from selective schools or with masters degrees are the most likely to leave their school districts after five years.  There is admittedly some worry that this will create future problem in Chicago Schools.