No Child Left Behind;
Why we should rethink the current policy.
Education was the focus of George W. Bush’s Presidential campaign in 2000. Using the improved Texas educational system as an example, President Bush promised to change education in America for the better. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was the result of his promise. Bringing reform to American Education, the NCLB is the topic of much controversy. While the ideas supporting NCLB are sound, the methodology is lacking. The overreaching and poorly funded law failed to account for many of the variables that parents, teachers and schools face on a daily basis. While the law holds the assumption that all children should be able to receive an equal education regardless of socioeconomic or racial backgrounds. It lacks in the flexibility needed to serve those students in a manner that is not only fair and equitable to the students themselves. While the idea is sound it fails to account for the potential of teacher or student instead reducing them both to a number in a report justifying the “value added” nature of each school district.
The website for the United States Department of Education describes the four pillars that form the foundation of NCLB. These, in essence, are accountability, flexibility, parents, and methods. Accountability relates to holding the schools accountable for student performance, this is judged by standardized testing scores. Flexibility is the idea of greater freedom in education on a local level. Parents are part of NCLB, granting tools and alternatives to parents with students in at risk schools. The final pillar, methods, relates to scientifically tested methods of learning being implemented in the classroom. Another factor in the NCLB Act is teacher quality.
Accountability according to NCLB is reviewed by standardized testing scores. This has led to educators being forced to teach to the test. Schools that do not attain the expected level of yearly improvement are required to provide supplemental services including tutoring and additional classes for students in need of extra support. Schools that do not attain set testing achievement each year are held accountable and required to increase their efforts. Schools that do not reach required levels for two consecutive years are required to offer alternatives to parents, allowing parents to transfer their students to a more successful school within the district. One problem with this is that where academic performance suffers due to poverty, many schools in the district may fail to achieve the standards required by NCLB (Lagana-Riordan & Aguilar, 2009).
Flexibility touts heightened local control of education, but is limited mostly to more liberal control of the budget within selected approved areas. Flexibility does not lie in curriculum, as test standards must be met. School districts have more control of their budget, with less red tape to get funding where they want it to go. Often times, funding goes towards merit based teacher raises, giving raises to teachers whose students attain the sought after high test scores. This further encourages teaching to the test.
Parental involvement is a key part of NCLB which sounds great, but once more, the flavor text is deceiving. Parents become more involved under NCLB when the school their child attends is underperforming. If the school does not attain its goals, then the parents are eligible to enroll their child in tutoring, summer programs and other supportive education. If a school does not meet academic standards or is deemed violent or dangerous, then the parents may place their student in a different school within the district.
The methods provided for under NCLB again mostly relate to testing. These standardized tests are proven to be a measure of a student’s academic success....
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