On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This law represents his education reform plan and contains changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since it was enacted in 1965. It is asking America’s schools to describe their success in terms of what each student accomplishes. The act contains the President’s four basic education reform principles: stronger accountability for results, especially in reading, increased flexibility and local control, expanded options for parents, and teacher and staff quality.
Schools will be held responsible for improving the academic performance of all students, and there will be real consequences for districts and schools that fail to make progress. Within twelve years, all students must perform at a proficient level under their state standards. But, states will set their own standards for each grade–so each state will say how well children should be reading at the end of third grade. Interested parents, families, and taxpayers can look to their state for detailed information about its academic standards.
No Child Left Behind combines and simplifies programs, so that schools can get and use federal funding. Schools and teachers will get a boost for more than $4 billion in 2002 that allows schools to promote teacher quality through training and recruitment. Parents with a child enrolled in a school identified as in need of improvement will be able to transfer their child to a better performing public school or public charter school.
No Child Left Behind gives districts new flexibility and freedom with Federal funds so children with disabilities can be better served. States will receive the freedom to target up to 50 percent of federal non-Title I dollars under the Act to programs that will have the most positive impact on the students they serve, including students with disabilities. Students will be assessed and assessments must provide for adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Though, there must be a separate measurable annual objectives “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) for continuous and substantial improvement for the achievement of groups of students, including students with disabilities
The purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act is to ensure 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. President Bush states, “every school — every public school in America is a place of high expectations and a place of achievement.” So far, five states have taken the lead in assimilating the requirements of the Act into their current accountability systems and have received approval for their proposed accountability plans from the Department of Education. The states receiving approval are: Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio.
When asking regular education and special education teachers about the No Child Left Behind Act, I realized many did not know much about it. I approached the principal at the school I work at and asked her about it but I received very little information. It was apparent that not many people knew what this act was about; they just knew that it exists. Luckily Anita the assistant to the Director of Special Education returned my phone call and had some more information for me. To Anita this challenges the educational system. As for students with disabilities, it makes the teachers be more responsive and assess special education students. It tries to bring up these students to state standards. She said that it may not be very realistic for students who are mentally retarded and have Learning Disabilities. She states that these students may not even be at the 50th percentile. “It’s a struggle to get these students to a hire level. Finally, the last thing she said was that this act is pushing for kids not to be exempted from testing.