Lofty goals drove the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001; among them, to bring more accountability to school systems, to provide a comparison between schools and state standards, and to establish core competency goals. While educators are bitterly split over the effectiveness of this strategy, it was unquestionably successful in one respect; it created a boom market for companies that design, administer, and evaluate NCLB tests.
After failing to reauthorize this program last year, Congress will be taking another crack at it later this year. You can expect more spirited arguments about its value. You can also expect that the industry will be supporting the passage of the bill, to keep the money ($2.3 billion in 2006, according to Eduventures, Inc.) flowing. NCLB tests, and programs designed to help students prepare for it, offer a number of opportunities for companies to cash in.