No Child Left Behind: Does It Really Work?
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was signed into law January 8, 2002. It is the latest revision of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and is regarded as the most significant federal education policy initiative in a generation. The overall purpose of the law is to ensure that each child in America is able to meet the high learning standards of the state where he or she lives. There are a couple more specific goals such as: students will attain proficiency or better in reading and mathematics by 2013-2014, by 2005-2006 all students will be taught by highly qualified teachers, and all students will graduate from high school (Camera). To help schools and districts meet these goals, the law provides a blend of requirements, incentives and resources.
One requirement is annual testing of all students in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and in science at three times in a student’s school career. These tests must be aligned with state standards and it is required that the number of students who score proficient is increased each year. If these expectations are not met, schools are then forced to change curriculum and/or hire more highly qualified teachers and aides. NCLB will provide nearly $1 billion annually in additional funding over the next five years to help states and districts strengthen K-3 reading programs, before- and after-school programs, charter schools, reading readiness for preschool children, teacher professional development and education technology (Nolen). In reality, this law holds states and schools more accountable for individual student progress, makes teachers more prone to teaching only the test, and forces students to take more standardized tests. There is a lot of discussion over if this law built on good intentions does in fact help the school system.
One reason this law is supported is because it provides equality for all students. It guarantees that all students within the same state get the same education from school to school. Every student is required, and expected, to take the exact same test. This ensures that state standards are being met. But why are state standards such a big deal? Without standards, districts and schools don't have goals to shoot for (Basler). Overall, the goal is to make sure that the youth gets the education they need to grow up and allow the US to be competitive on a worldwide (Nolen). Also, NCLB requires school to furnish an annual report card. The report cards must have student achievement data broken down by subgroup (such as the grade the student has in Math, English, etc.) and information on the performance of the school district. Also, districts must provide a similar report card showing and comparing school-to-school data. This feature lets parents keep an eye on their child`s education. They can see how their student is doing in school and can compare different schools to one another. This requirement is one very strong reason people support the No Child Left Behind act. NCLB promises more than it delivers. First off, the standardized tests tend to be an unreliable and invalid means of assessing student learning and have had other negative, predictable consequences for student learning (The Controversy). For instance, when third graders are made to sit quietly and still in room to take hour long tests, they tend to get anxious and lose focus easy. Students who know this information may do poorly just because of the circumstances under which they had to take the test. “Failure to use proper statistical measurements could result in inaccurate test results,” says The World Book. This brings around a second argument. The schools that are most in need of funding (for the large part in under advantaged school districts) are often the least likely to receive funding because they score poorly on the tests due to a preexisting history of struggling students and