In 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The purpose of this law is to provide students with a strong enough education in elementary and secondary schools to meet the increasing growing standards of the society through focusing on results accountability, increased freedom for states and separate communities, effective methods of education, and diverse choices of parents.
The effectiveness of NCLB for students, their parent, teachers, and the general public have been widely debated. The Congress of the United States has already started considering some major revisions to the Act, and in 2007, new legislation was introduced to decrease the control and power of the Act over states. (Cochran-Smith, 2005)
This essay aims to explore the significance of this Act in the context of the contemporary domestic and international situation. It will also concentrate on the results that the Program has achieved throughout the years of its existence to analyze its effectiveness.
One of the most important aspects of the NCLB Act is the increased requirement for teacher quality. The new qualifications included state certification and license as well as fulfilling such requirements as obtaining a bachelor’s degree, passing the subject knowledge tests in the areas they teach.
These new requirements evoked certain difficulties and dissatisfaction for various reasons. These difficulties were especially particular for those who teach special needs children or those who teach in small communities as they often have to perform the duties of several teachers and specialize in various subjects (Stecher, Hamilton, Gonzalez, 2003).
NCLB also changed the student testing increasing the number of tests annually held and adding a new science test for all grades to adequately measure student competency and progress as well as to stress such subjects as reading, writing, math, and science throughout all school years.
It also required all the schools to conduct scientific research with the usage of control and focus groups, and methodology research to come up with various ways of teaching and contribute towards professional development.
As far as the parents are concerned, the law allowed them to choose schools for their children at the beginning of the school year. This was claimed to increase educational opportunities for children since the schools were required to submit the information to the parents about the school’s yearly performance, as well as provide information to the parents in case of their children were taught by teachers that lacked the qualifications required by NCLB (Arce, Luna, Borjan, Conrad, 2005). In addition to that, the schools that failed to fulfill the requirements of NCLB for several years in a row had to provide students with a chance to transfer to other schools, attend supplementary programs or receive free tutoring.
Through various tools, NCLB was also aimed to concentrate on the student groups that commonly suffered the lack of attention on the part of the educational system, such as national minority students, disabled students, or students from families with low income.
On the other hand, NCLB Act also faced extensive negative feedback. First of all, such comments occurred due to the inability of the government to fund its program. Although the funding of education increased, it was not sufficient for fulfilling all the aspects of the Act. This resulted in higher levels of punishment for schools for not fulfilling the requirements of the law, even though the schools were not provided with adequate resources to fully implement the Act requirements (Cochran-Smith, 2005).
To escape penalties and punishment, some schools attempted to manipulate the performance data and test results. This was done by eliminating vulnerable groups (minorities, disabled, etc) so that the school was not classified as under-performing. Additionally, some schools lowered their standards to fulfill the law requirements. This led to an increased misconception that children are doing better in schools though, in reality, the tests were just different.
Moreover, the standardized testing employed for NCLB also faced critical feedback. Often, instead of teaching the subject itself, teachers instructed students on how to pass the test, providing them with a minimum and strategies need for test completion.
Such doings hindered the effective evaluation of NCLB often providing incorrect results that did not coincide with the real state of affairs. Although it is clear that NCLB is aimed to tailor the educational system to the contemporary requirements, it lacks consistency and should be subjected to further improvements.
Accordingly, various programs of the Act improvement have been offered by a variety of activist groups. A statement known as a Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind was signed in 2004 to draw the attention of the government as well as the general public to the issues of NCLB. The main argument in this statement was that “the law’s emphasis needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to hold states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement.”
Arce, J., Luna, D., Borjian, A., & Conrad, M. (2005). No Child Left Behind: Who Wins? Who Loses?. Social Justice, 32(3), 56-58.
Cochran-Smith, M. (2005). No Child Left Behind: 3 Years and Counting. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(2), 99 -104.
Stecher, B., Hamilton, L., & Gonzalez, G. (2003). Working Smarter to Leave No Child Behind: Practical Insights for School Leaders /. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.