The No Child Left behind Act, referred to as NCLB was signed into law on January 8th, 2002 during the Bush Administration and was heralded with bipartisan support. It boosted educational spending by the Federal government by approximately 40%. (Carleton University 2008) NCLB’s goal was to attempt to remedy the problem of lack of accountability and school achievement throughout the nation. It was considered a revision of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Educational Act. The aim of the Law is to close the achievement gap and skills between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
The government identified a lack of set standards and testing requirements across the country. Some schools were consistently failing to meet the state standards and the students were subjected to that school’s poor performance due to the location of their residence and school boundaries. Parents were left with no choice or alternative nor recourse to transfer their child from a dangerous or poor performing school to a safer or academically successful school. Lack of local and state control over educational funding and programs implemented and used caused inconsistency among school districts throughout the states.
Due to budgetary constraints certain schools, usually in disadvantaged areas, fell below the minimum standards with little hope for change. As well, lack of academic accountability on the local and state level was identified as an overwhelming problem that needed to be addressed. The No Child Left behind Law proposes to close the achievement gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged students. Also it aims to target reading skills and gain proficiency by the end of the 3rd grade and for graduates of high school also to reach a certain level of proficiency in all subjects.
Another goal of the law is to hire and retain qualified and skilled teachers for the main academic subjects in schools. The population identified and targeted for the No Child Left behind Act is the economically disadvantaged children and parents in certain poor performing and dangerous schools and school districts across the country. This population was impacted favorably in various ways. Through mandatory state wide testing the schools performances were monitored and problematic schools were identified.
Additional funding at the local, state and federal levels were allocated for this lackluster schools to supplement more successful learning programs, hire quality and experienced teachers and if the school’s performance doesn’t improve, the parents have the choice to get supplemental tutoring, after school services or transfer to a better school, with transportation provided. The disadvantaged students with limited proficiency in English are identified and given addition help, impacting them positively.
The gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged students is projected to narrow. Some of the positives identified of the NCLB Law include steadily increased student test scores since 2002, especially amongst minority students. Higher qualified teachers and professionals are teaching over 90% of the classes in the country and a little less than half a million students have received additional help such as tutoring or been able to transfer to better performing schools. (Carleton University 2008) Possible negative aspects to the No Child Left behind Law exist also.
Since states are mandated to test students yearly, some critics claim the teachers are teaching the testing specifics or “teaching to the test” in order that the children do better. This is not really ensuring that the students thoroughly understand the subject matter. Different state standards have made interpreting the data difficult as well. Another factor that can hinder the success of the NCLB program is the high dropout rate in many states. According to an Alliance for Excellent Education publication, in the United States, every day up to seven thousand students dropout. This is 1.
3 million annually and appears to be an epidemic. These numbers skew the positive results for the NCLB program. This also has a huge impact on many areas in society, such as crime, cycles of welfare, and shortfalls in the economy. If the dropouts of the school year 2009 had indeed graduated high school, they’d earn an addition $355 over their lifetimes. (Education Week 28, no. 34, 2009) Some claim that a very negative factor of the NCLB has been the lack of funds actually received by the states. What they were promised by the government didn’t always materialize. The requirements of No Child Left Behind are extensive.
It is implemented by each state annually testing students according to standards they set and adopt. This is required in grades third through eighth each year for the subjects of math and reading. Science is to be tested three times during a student’s career. Each state must comply with determining if a school district and its schools are achieving 100% of students being successful in meeting the standards. Schools are required to have their teachers be highly qualified in the core academic subjects and use scientifically based education programs and proven and tested strategies.
Support is given for students who may be in special at risk categories, such as insufficient knowledge of English, homelessness, truancy and etc. The result of each state’s 3rd through 8th grade reading and math testing will be collected, analyzed and recorded carefully. These results are studied at the local, state and federal level and reported accordingly. This will aid educators at each level in identifying the success of the No Child Left behind Law. New goals can be implemented and areas requiring additional attention and help can be addressed.
When schools in need of additional improvement are identified then more attention and aid can be properly allocated quickly and efficiently to maximize results and get the school back on track as soon as possible. Also, using a special system with compiled data to track both graduates and dropouts can be shared locally, statewide and at the national level to analyze trends and adjust areas if needed. Thorough state testing with more uniform standards across the nation will result in a greater ability to analyze the success of the NCLB law. Knowing exactly how the schools are performing can result in stronger accountability.
The current administration has adjusted some of the original budgets, standards and goals since the original law No Child Left Behind was passed. President Obama hopes to transform the United States into the most competitive workforce and highest number of college graduates in the world by the year 2020. The U. S Department of Education states its mission is: “It seeks to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. ” (U. S Dept of Education 2010) References