Citing NCLB In Your Dissertation

Frances R. A. Paterson, J.D., Ed.D.

Professor
Department of Curriculum, Leadership, and Technology


Many students refer to or cite NCLB in their papers, theses, or dissertations but have difficulty citing a statute using APA style.
Pages 403-404 of the APA manual show how to cite a statute using the following format:
Name of Act, volume source § XXX (year).
The “volume source” refers to where the statute is published, that is the set of books where the federal government publishes/prints its statutes (laws passed by Congress).
The manual gives an example using the Mental Health Act of 1988
Reference list--
Example of citation

 

In text--
Mental Health Systems Act of 1988
OR
Mental Health Systems Act (1988)
Page 404 of the APA Manual shows a reference list entry for The Americans with Disabilities Act.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C.A. § 12101 et seq. (West 1993).
OK, so the name of the Act is clear and so is the volume number but what is this U.S.C. A.? And et seq? And why is the date 1993 when the Act became law in 1990?

EXPLANATION

  1. U.S.C.A. stands for United States Code Annotated (that means it has explanatory notes and references to case law), published by West. The language of the statute itself is identical in both the U.S.C. and U.S.C.A.
  2. Et seq. means “and following.”
  3. Unless you are citing a particular statute as history, you should cite to the most recent version of the Code (U.S.C. or U.S.C.A.), that is the current year version. 

 

Applying APA to NCLB Citations

So you want to cite the highly qualified teacher provision shown on page 464 of La Morte.
Reference list entry
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2008).
Note that NCLB has a great more to say about highly qualified teachers and you might to find the provision you are discussing have to use the Code itself (HORRORS). 

The Special Problem of Multiple Reference List Entries

When you cite or quote specific sections of a statute you could wind up with several reference list entries that the reader cannot sort out, that is, the reader cannot tell which reference list entries match which in-text citations and/or quotations. This is one reason that APA does not work particularly well for legal sources.
The only way around this problem is to give each statutory reference a subheading. Let’s do this for § 6301 above.
Text--
NCLB requires each school district to “ensure that all teachers hired after such day and teaching in a program supported with [NCLB] funds. . . Are highly qualified” (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Qualifications for Teachers and Professionals, 2004).
Reference List-
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Qualifications for Teachers and Professionals,  20       U.S.C. § 6319 (2008).
Now the reference list entry matches the in text citation.
“And where,” you ask, “can I find these section names?”
Now, mind, this problem only arises if you have multiple citations to the same statute.
In the statute itself. Use the resources VSU provides you: online access to the U. S. Code through LEXIS (a Galileo database) and the assistance of the reference librarians at Odum Library.

A Delicate Question: The Secondary Reference

OK, you found your reference to NCLB in someone else’s study or article or book. You have two choices cite the statute itself or cite so and so citing or quoting the statute. If you are citing NCLB itself for its legal authority, then go back to the statute itself (via LEXIS and with the help of the excellent reference librarians at Odum library you can do this at home).
But if you are citing it BECAUSE it is part of so and so’s study, then you do what is called a secondary reference (see page 247 in your APA manual). Because one is a study and the other a statute I often advise my students to adapt the APA style to keep the focus on the study by using “citing” or “quoting” rather than use the “as cited in” that APA itself uses.
Balock, 2005, citing No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2008).
or
Balock, citing No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2008)—if you have previously cited Balock.
or
(Balock, 2005, p. 218 , quoting No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2008)).
or
(Balock, p. 218, quoting No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2008)).
or
(p. 218, quoting No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2008)).


To learn more about legal citation, click here (especially the How to Cite section and the Abbreviations section) or here.