The Harmful Effects of No Child Left Behind

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The Harmful Effects of NCLB

The No Child Left Behind act is the Bush administration's sweeping educational reform, aimed at improving the performance of the nation's public schools by introducing accountability. Supporters of the act claim that it will increase the performance of all school children by raising the standards and allowing parents greater freedom in choosing the school they want their child to attend. The act also puts in place a system of punishment for schools if their student body does not perform to the standards set down by the National government (NCLB act). As well as increasing standards, this act also encourages teachers to use a curriculum which the government developed with "scientifically based research" (a phrase that appears 111 times in the act) (Hammond 4). While standardized curriculum and increased standards seem like they would improve children's learning, in reality it hurts them by pushing them too hard academically instead of focusing on social development, and denying them specialized attention based upon their individual abilities.

No Child Left Behind was designed by the Bush administration to reduce the "learning gap" between different groups of students and to ensure better teacher equality. However, it sets fourth a method of measuring "Adequate Yearly Progress" which aims at 100% proficiency in 10 years time (from the start of the program) (Wood 4). These impossibly high standards cause greater harm than good. One adverse effect of these high standards is that they substantially weaken the safety nets for under-performing students in the nation's schools. As schools struggle to meet the act's impossibly high goals, many incentives to keep underperforming students out, or to hold those already in the school back present themselves. A disturbing example of this comes from King Middle School in Ohio. At this school the average scores increased from the 70th to the 72nd percentile from the 2002 to the 2003...
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