No Child Left Behind is an act of parliament, which was proposed by George W. Bush as a means of improving the standard of education in America. Abbreviated as NCLB or pet-named “nicklebee” the act aims to improve the performance of the schools by making them accountable of the performance of the students. Increased performance was equated to more funding from the federal government while a reduced or stagnant performance meant reduced or zero funding from the government. This paper will discuss the causes that led to the formation of the Act and the effect it has had on the education system.
The NCLB program was initiated to ensure that all students in public schools get good quality education. This is by monitoring the performance of the public schools every year and with serious consequences if there is no annual improvement from the students. Some of these consequences include reduced or lack of funding from the government. So the schools are always under pressure to improve the performance of their students every year. Students in 3-8 grades were to sit for annual tests in math and reading but by 2008, science was also included.
The NCLB legislation also helped in the improvement of education by giving the parents a chance to decide which schools their children attend. This is unlike when parents have no participation in choosing schools for their children, for instance a parent can decide to have her/his children attend the school closest to their home thereby making learning easier for the children. Since parents are involved in deciding which school that their children attend, they try to ensure that the children attend the best schools possible. This has on one hand seen overpopulation in schools that have previously shown prowess in academic performance. Such high populations eventually lead to a drop in performance levels of such schools.
Though the purpose of the establishment of the NCLB program was to improve the performance of students, it somehow made the curricula narrow. For instance, in most of the schools students were taught to pass the annual test. This is in comprehension reading, mathematical skills and sciences which are given so much attention by the teachers leaving little room for other subjects. So to enable the students to pass the test, more time was allocated to these subjects and therefore making the curricula a bit narrow since it was more or less standard test oriented.
Each state has the authority to set its standard tests and also has its own way of assessment. This therefore means that there is no nationwide assessment. This is indicative of a disparity in education standards against the original intention of the act. For example one state might have a lower standard than others in a bid to achieve a higher score that would see more federal fund allocation meaning that the students from other states will graduate but one will have achieved a higher standard than the other despite the possible low budget.
The aim of the NCLB program was to improve the education standards of poor and minority students by ensuring that they get and maintain high standards in education and also get government funding. This program has therefore been able to maintain poor students in schools with a good education. But on the other hand, it has had a negative impact on the education system in the country and thereby drawing a lot of criticism from various circles. For one, the lack of a common standard test that is applicable to all schools in different states works against the basic idea of the program. A common test would help to streamline the curricula and the goals set by the individual states. Secondly, the program lacks a longitudinal assessment and this makes assessment a bit unfair. That is each year the assessment tests are given to different students, and the states use different results from different students to do their assessment. This is unlike when the same students are given different tests over a period of time, this is because every grade is different and the issues that affect a certain grade in a certain year are also different.
From the above observations, it is clear that the NCLB program has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, it is important to note that it was started with very good intentions of improving education nationwide. Unfortunately, the pegging of federal funds to performance in certain subjects is the major undoing of the program as it tends to facilitate discrimination on some subjects that are not tested.