President Bush called No Child Left Behind "the cornerstone of my administration," back in 2001. Even Senator Kerry voted for it. It gave unprecedented control to the federal government, which is a major deal since it comes from a Republican, a group who normally advocates state control over education issues. Now, four years later, the law has shown some major problems in the implementation of its goal and fundamental problems with the law itself. During the election you would have expected something this important would have received more focus during debates about domestic issues. However, because of the fact the two candidates did not want to show some courage and make any major changes to No Child Left Behind during the election, it became somewhat of a moot point. No Child Left Behind is broken and all of the politicians are afraid to fix it.
The purpose of No Child Left Behind is to close the achievement gap and to make sure that all children learn their math and reading by 2014. The law tries to accomplish this hefty goal by implementing different tactics. One of them is to have stronger accountability in the schools. In order to achieve this goal they use standardized tests to see how well the schools are teaching all of the students, with specific emphasis on students who are disadvantaged, like poor students or minority students. They divide the students into subgroups according their ethnic backgrounds and wealth and give them the tests. The tests are supposed to show how well the students are doing learning their basic skills such as math and reading. In theory, the school can then identify those students who are falling behind and focus more attention and resources on them. The schools then test the students again in order to determine if there was any improvement in their basic skills. If there is no improvement in two years the school system must provide other alternatives for the children. For example, the school system must pay for the children to attend another school. In addition, each school has five years to make adequate yearly progress in the number of subgroups that pass the test. Adequate yearly progress is not defined in the law, each state and sometimes each school system defines it differently. If there is not adequate yearly progress in five years the school will be shut down and put under new management. Currently these tests are supposed to be national and to be given in the third grade through eighth grade and be done by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. However, many states are trying to get their individual state tests recognized as the test for their students. The law also mandates that teachers have a college major for every core subject they cover. The law also gives all schools the flexibility to use any federal money that they are given to help the school meet all of the qualifications of No Child Left Behind. They should also focus on learning programs that have been scientifically proven in the education field.
Bush touts this law as one of his great accomplishments on the domestic side which historically Republicans are weaker on. When he received bipartisan support in 2001 for No Child Left Behind it was hated and loved on both sides of the alley because of the compromises both sides made in order to get it passed. During the 2004 election Bush talked about how this law has already helped schools everywhere in our country and that we need to expand on it in order to fully accomplish the goals of the law. One of Bush’s plans is to expand No child Left Behind by requiring two or more years of testing in reading and math in high schools, which would require annual state testing in grades three to 11. He needs to request an additional $250 million a year for these tests. He also needs to create a $500 million fund for states and school districts that choose to reward effective teachers. Other ideas Bush has for expansion of this law include giving a...
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