No Child Left Behind
The education policy that I chose is on education today and the influence of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. In 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act. The NCBL is a United States Act of Congress, which includes Title 1 (program for disadvantaged students offered by the government). This Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills. Each state is required to give these assessments to all students to receive federal school funding. This Act does not set the standards nationwide; each individual state sets the standards. Diane Ravitch, an education philosopher was a supporter of this Act when it was being passed. She believed that every child had the right to a proper education. As the years passed she acquired more experience and knowledge on the Act, and is now completely opposed to the NCLB Act. Ravitch believes that the states dumb down the standards in light of the NCLB. The question now is: is the No Child Left Behind Act seeking to repair the problem, or is it the cause?
Under NCLB, the accountability of a child's education is examined by the Federal government and turned into the hands of the state. This was the first time an American president has set a goal of universal proficiency in reading and mathematics for all children. The federal emphasis on literacy, reading, and mathematics emphasizes teacher and school accountability, with negative consequences when schools do not meet established improvement goals (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Under NCLB the state must have accountability provisions that include how they will close the achievement gap. According to the Department of Education the achievement gap is defined as such; The difference between how well low-income and minority children perform on standardized tests as compared with their peers.
For many years, low-income and minority children have fallen behind their white peers in terms of academic achievement (Department of Education, 2002). States must also monitor that every student not excluding the disadvantaged achieve academic proficiency. Yearly assessments must be produced to inform parents of the progress of both the state and the community. Schools that do not meet the academic proficiency standards must offer supplemental services and take corrective action. If within five years the school is still not making yearly progress, than dramatic changes in the school's academic direction must be made. Dramatic changes according to the Department of Education are defined as follows; "…additional changes to ensure improvement." The definition raises the question of whether there is a plan for failure at all.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, in its "National Report Card" shows that these goals may be falling short. Students in fourth grade show temporary improvement in math right after No Child Left Behind became a law, but returned to pre-reform growth rate. The NAEP estimates that by 2014 less than 25% of financially challenged and African American students will achieve NAEP proficiency in reading. Using the same time frame less than half the financially challenged and African American students will obtain proficiency in math. With so much pressure on the states to perform well, a trend is becoming apparent that they are inflating proficiency levels of students. This causes discrepancies between the NAEP and state assessments especially among the financially challenged, African American, and Hispanic students.
With no sufficient evidence shown on that NCLB is working, the question is as follows; is the federal government capable of running our school systems? There are undoubtedly dangers in the public school system teaching a federally mandated curriculum. When one controls people's perception of history, one controls the present. There is, of course, a point to be made that if the nations' children are kept in watered down public schools,...
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