No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
Benjamin M. Randolph
University of New England
In 2001 the United States Congress passed a bi-partisan bill aimed at insuring that all children “have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments” (U.S. Department of Education, 2015a). This act was called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) and has dominated education policy for the last 14 teen years. This paper discusses the evolution of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 into the NCLBA and the philosophical shift from the federal government granting states money in 1965 to mandatory testing in 2001. The paper traces the historical context of the NCLBA including the perception that America was falling behind the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Political factors during President George W. Bush are discussed along with manifest and latent functions of the legislation. Research suggests that the NCLBA did not have the intended effect of bringing all students to a minimum proficiency level and it has been reworked and flexibility added to the regulations. This author suggests that future legislation look at education in a holistic manner and provides adequate funding to implement social work interventions.
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
In 2001 the United States Congress passed a bi-partisan bill aimed at insuring that all children “have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments” (U.S. Department of Education [USDE], 2015a) called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). Former Secretary of Education Paige suggests that the NCLBA is based on four basic premises: The first premise is that our system of public education must have specific expectations for student achievement in the areas of mathematics and language arts and that we should measure each student's ability to reach those expectations. The second premise is that we should provide remediation opportunities for students who struggle. The third premise is that districts and states should be held accountable to parents and taxpayers for student achievement. And the fourth and final premise is that federal education dollars should be tied to accountability. In other words, money should be targeted to promote the academic achievement of our most disadvantaged children, and the results of these efforts must be reported. (2006) There are over 1,100 pages of the NCLBA and the pages “describe accountability, funding … and teacher quality” (Caillier, 2007). “The goals of this Act are clear; each state, school, and local education agency must make specific progress towards student achievement results each year until every child is 100 percent proficient by the year 2014” (Caillier, 2007). Addressing accountability the NCLBA “required states to develop or use existing standardized tests to measure the proficiency of students in reading and math – and then monitor schools to see if their students’ scores improved” (Jansson, 2015, p.451). The states are able to set their own proficiency levels with minimal government influence and required to test all students in grades 3 through 12 to set baseline proficiency that future performance will be tested against. The states are required to submit the baseline proficiency levels and an accountability plan to deal with non-compliant schools to the U.S. Department of Education. In this manner proficiency levels may differ from state to state. States that do not show an increase in adequate yearly progress (AYP) will be subject to sanctions at two, three, four, and five year intervals. AYP is determined by the proficiency percentages that have been set by the...
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