Why Congress Should Not Reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act Essay

Submitted By amberleddon
Words: 1981
Pages: 8

Why Congress Should Not Reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act

Amber Leddon

English 102
Mr. Petrarca
December 13, 2011

Student underachievement in American public schools is a serious problem in today’s society. In attempt to solve this issue, Congress authorized the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB for short. This act is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. There are some positive effects of the NCLB Act. According to Nina Rees, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, “last year nearly 250,000 students took advantage of public school choice and private tutoring to families (Rees A22).” The numbers show that many students have benefited from the NCLB Act’s offerings. Another positive effect is the rise in test scores for third- graders (Bacon 6). Other test scores seem to be rising as well. According to the Nation’s Report Card, “fourth- and eighth-grade math scores are at all-time highs, and 9-year-olds have made more progress in reading in the past five years than in the previous three decades (Rees A22).” She then adds that these gains have come from incredible improvements among black and Hispanic students (Rees A22). This displays improvements amid some of American’s public school students. There are many negative effects if the NCLB Act also. Nearly half of high school graduates do not believe they are prepared for post-secondary education or work. As Lawrence Hardy says in his article, “According to a 2005 survey by Achieve, 40 percent of high school graduates say they are inadequately prepared to deal with the demands of work or post-secondary education (Hardy 11).” If more energy was focused on improving early education, by the time the students reached high school they would be more than prepared for furthering their education or getting out into the work force. Accordingly, students that do not attend school regularly are not going to be able to work as efficiently as those who do. For example, “researchers at John Hopkins University and the Philadelphia Education Fund found that sixth-graders who do not attend school regularly, receive poor behavior marks, or fail math or English have only a 10 percent chance of graduating on time (Hardy 11).” Immediate action should be taken to give elementary through high school students incentives to graduate and move on. Another negative effect of the NCLB Act is that state rules are so filled with loopholes that they are doing little to ensure teachers have what it takes. Anne McGrath says in her article, Can Teachers Measure Up, “States that don’t report that 100 percent of classes are taught by highly qualified teachers are the only ones anybody should believe (McGrath 52).” Under the NCLB Act, each state gets to determine what brings its own teaching veterans up to par. As McGrath explains, most states excuse them from passing tests and taking substantial course work if they can show they have logged a certain number of points for years in the classroom or a range of professional activities (McGrath 32). An analysis by the National Council on Teacher Quality gives examples of ways someone lacking subject based expertise can be deemed “highly qualified. Accumulating credits for things such as mentoring, studying pedagogy, and being a member of an education organization are just a few examples. Unfortunately, mastering a subject on paper is much different than actually being able to teach it. In my opinion, a student can graduate Harvard with a doctorate degree in math and still not be a very good teacher. Teaching well is more than just having knowledge and a degree in a certain subject. According to McGrath, states such as Virginia are providing free courses so veteran teachers could obtain 18 to 21 hours of credit in their fields. Harold Fitrer, assistant superintendent who oversees hiring, points to gains in student achievement as a sign