The No Child Left Behind Act is designed to raise the achievement levels of subgroups of students such as African Americans, Latinos, low-income students, and special education students to a state-determined level of proficiency. However, since its introduction in 2001, it has received a lot of criticism. Some argue the ulterior motives of the Act while others commend its innovation and timing. With the Bush administration coming to an end, it is difficult to determine what will happen to the Act or how effective it will continue to be. Hopefully future lawmakers will be able to evaluate the pros and cons of the Act and the impact it will have on our youth.
Lets first start by explaining what the Act entails. As defined by Wikipedia, The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), more commonly known as NCLB, is a United States federal law signed on January 8, 2002 by George Bush, that reauthorizes a number of federal programs that aim to improve the performance of primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability for state, school districts and schools, as well as providing parents more flexibility in choosing which schools their children will attend. NCLB is built on four principles: accountability for results, more choices for parents, greater local control and flexibility, and an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research. Additionally, it promotes an increased focus on reading and re-authorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). NCLB is the latest federal legislation which enact the theories of standards-based education reform, which is based on the belief that high expectations and setting of goals will result in success for all students. Under the new law, every racial and demographic group in each school must meet rising goals on English and math tests to make "adequate yearly progress." This Act tests reading and math skills of third through eighth graders. If any group fails to reach targets for two-years running, a school is labeled "needing improvement," and must provide transportation for students to transfer to higher-scoring schools or pay for tutoring. One of the main goals of the Act was to ensure that all students must show proficiency in math and reading by the 2013-2014 school year. If a school does not live up to these pre-set standards certain actions may take place such as principals and teachers being replaced or suspended, and in a worse case scenario federal funding could be stopped.
Over the past few years since this law was passed in 2001 and which came into effect in 2002, Bush has received some criticism from democrats who question his commitment to public education reform. "The President's budget fails to recognize that strong schools are as important to our future as a strong defense," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He adds Bush's budget would leave "over 4.6 million children behind." This Act is over 7 billion dollars short of what was promised in order to assure smaller classes, better teachers and all around a higher standard of education. In the past, the NCLB focused more on math and English, while ignoring other vital subjects such as history, science and foreign language. Meaning that when the kids move on to higher levels in their education, they will be not as knowledgeable in those subjects. This upcoming 2007-2008 school year, will mark the first year in which students knowledge of science will be tested among certain grades. (Jack Jennings, The challenges of the NCLB: Principal)
Another major concern that opponents of NCLB, which include all major teachers' unions, state is that the Act is slacking on improving education in elementary, middle and especially in high schools. This conclusion came about with the evidence of mixed results in standardized tests. The standardized tests are deeply flawed and biased for many reasons, and the need for...