No Child Left Behind and Its Effects on Urban School Districts

Topics: High school, Education in the United States, African American Pages: 13 (4973 words) Published: August 27, 2013
No Child Left Behind and Its Impact on Urban School Districts

No Child Left Behind and Its Impact on Urban School Districts Introduction
The purpose of this discussion is to assess the effects that the “No Child Left Behind” act has had on school districts (and the students in those school districts) across the nation, particularly urban school districts, with an emphasis on the effect it has had on minorities, especially African Americans. Overview of No Child Left Behind

In 2002 President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act (referred to as NCLB throughout this discussion) in order to “close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind” (NCLB, 2002). In particular NCLB was meant to address the achievement gap separating minorities and non-minorities (NCLB, 2002). NCLB is a continuation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (NCLB, 2002). The foundation of NCLB rests on four factors: accountability, increased local control, research-based instructional approaches, and parental choice (Knaus, 2007). Under NCLB, schools which receive federal funding (Title I funds) must make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP), or be subject to consequences. Title I is a federal grant program aimed at high-poverty, low-achieving schools. AYP is primarily measured by standardized test scores of students in grades 3-12. For AYP to be met, a certain percentage of students in each subgroup must prove themselves proficient on standardized tests. Subgroups are based on ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Although the subgroups tracked vary by state, the most common are White, African American, Latino, Asian, Native American, economically disadvantaged, Limited English Proficiency (LEP), and students with disabilities. When AYP is not met for two consecutive years, the school is classified as “in need of improvement,” and are required to take additional steps to help meet standards (Great Schools, 2013). Parents are also given the choice of enrolling their child in another higher performing school. Each consecutive year that a school fails to meet AYP results in more extensive interventions, culminating in possible shutdown of the school or takeover by the state (Great Schools, 2013). Strengths and Positive Effects of NCLB

Eleven years after NCLB went into effect, it’s difficult to find anything positive to say about its affects. The research shows that NCLB has largely been a failure in achieving its stated goals. Policymakers on both sides largely agree that NCLB is “broken.” Despite this, there have been positive affects. First and foremost, the requirements of NCLB have allowed the educational disparities between racial and economic subgroups to become crystal clear. Lagana-Riordan & Aguilar (2009) note that “NCLB has helped every state to expand and improve its data collection system. We now have more public information about student, school, and district academic achievement available to parents and community members than ever before” (p. 136-137). Arguably the best thing about NCLB is the requirement that each school break out its test scores by racial and socioeconomic groups and publicly expose the achievement gaps (Webley, 2012). NCLB has also helped to improve school leadership. School administrators are responsive to the system of high-stakes testing and some research has found that “NCLB has contributed to new school leadership structures and creative instructional responses that benefit students” (Lagana-Riordan & Aguilar, 2009, p. 137). Weaknesses, Shortcomings, and Negative Effects of NCLB

Evidence shows that NCLB has been largely ineffective in achieving its stated goals. Nevertheless, NCLB does negatively affect school districts in several ways. First, it compromises the quality of the educational experience in public schools. It forces schools to narrow their curriculum to little more than “teaching the test,” which ultimately...

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