On the sixth anniversary of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which determines how schools must focus their resources to ensure that all students are meeting grade-level standards by 2014, proponents and critics of the law sparred over how effective it has been in raising student achievement—and what kind of changes should be made later this year, when Congress is scheduled to renew the measure.

President Bush defended the law during a Jan. 7 appearance at Horace Greeley Elementary School in Chicago, though he acknowledged that several changes ought to be...

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