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No Child Left Behind Program, Essay Example

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Essay

Validity or lack of validity in the “No Child left behind” program

Introduction

The ‘No Child left behind’ program was enacted by Congress in 2001 under the G.W. Bush administration.  It was aimed at increasing the standards in US High School education and ensuring that basic skills were provided to students of certain grades.  One of the prime objectives was to try and level the playing field in terms of equality in school education and particularly improve the state of the more disadvantaged pupils.  From the outset this was a controversial program and many educators felt that it failed to provide the very standards that it wished to establish.   An opinion poll that was conducted in 2003 showed a negative opinion from educators and superintendents; stating the program was politically motivated and the concept was aimed at undermining public school education. (Education Week, 2011).

The prime or core objectives of the program in terms of raising the standards of education and making the educational institutes more accountable was a good plan. In this regard the program made significant changes to the educational landscape.  Critics stated that these genuine concerns were more overshadowed by political motivations of being seen to address a serious issue without any real strategic insight into the true nature of the problems.  Many thought that this was not the vehicle to improve academic achievement within the US education system. The Obama administration has since provided relief to the States to help in the administration of the program. (National Education Association, 2011)

Pro`S of the Program

The advantages of the `No Child left behind`program` may be briefly summarised as follows:

  • Outcome based theories should in general terms help to raise standards and make the educational programs more accountable;
  • The objectives have the merit of being more equitable to the general populace of the USA and should enable freedom of education distributed in a more equitable manner to children regardless of class status, wealth, disability or ethnic or racial background;
  • It is supported by Federal law that aims to raise the educational standards and achievement standards of all students;
  • The accountability standards will be revisited and measured on an annual basis, the results of the report will be freely available to parents and thereby promote more inclusivity;
  • There will be a provision for setting new teacher standards;
  • Academic content will be improved including the use of more new scientific based research method;
  • There will be a greater emphasis on improving reading, writing and mathematical skills;
  • Attention will be focused on the ethnicity gap and aims will be made towards reducing the gaps in educational standards between white and minority ethnic students;
  • Increased efforts will be made to reduce the gaps between the more affluent white communities and the disadvantaged Latino and black communities; (White, D. 2011)

Con`s of the program

  • The major teaching unions have failed to support the program and have stated that it has not been effective in making the stated improvements in public education ;
  • The results and feedback from High Schools have been recorded since inception in 2002 and these have not been very favourable;
  • The concept of standardized testing is cited as being very flawed and that the need for more stricter teaching qualifications has helped to propel the teacher shortage crisis;
  • Critics have argued that the Federal Government does not have constitutional authority over the schools and local education systems and that such intervention erodes the quality of education and teaching;
  • Spellings`report has stated that the NCLB program has failed to deliver on many of its objectives
  • During 1999-2004 test scores fell in reading and mathematics;
  • In 2003 the US 15 year age group ranked 24 out of 29 in maths, literacy and problem solving;
  • Margaret Spellings, the main author of the NCLB program, the Secretary of Education in the Bush Administration has never held a job in the school system and has no formal training in education; she holds an undergraduate degree (BA) in political science from the University of Houston; (White, D.2011)

Recent Statistics

The graph to the right illustrates the large increase in Federal Spending on the NCLB program; a sharp rise in spending from 2000 to 2005 and yet there has been relatively little improvement in the reading scores over the three groups of students surveyed i.e. 17 year old groups, 13 year old groups and 9 year old groups.  In fact in the 17 year old group there has been a decline with virtually no change over the last 30 years in the key 13 year old group.  With the US Department of Education being amongst the prime sources of data for this information.

The illustration to the right shows the students NAEP Maths scores by type of school in 2007.  The top line shows the higher performing middle income groups whilst the bottom line is based upon the lower income and more disadvantaged groups. NLCB clearly has little effect in creating more equilibrium between the two class groupings.  NLCB has not really achieved anything in the remedial action required to address the gaps between the middle income and the poverty or low income groups in American society.  This was one of its` reported founding objectives. (Mahar, M. 2011).

Statistics also indicated discrepancies on student proficiency.  International statistics are not always truly representative of what is happening in local state communities.  Examples of this have been figures produced out of North Carolina and Lake Wobegon where it has been reported that students have been doing better since the introduction of the NCLB scheme.

Nclb Impact on Teachers

The Teachers in the Education system have reported at least 10 major impacts as a result of the NCLB program. A report from the Centre on Education Policy has outlined what the ten biggest effects are: – (Rentner, 2006)

  1. The actual rate of student achievement on state tests is gradually improving. This according to state and district officials;
  2. In general schools are spending more money on reading and maths testing but this is sometimes to the detriment of other important subjects;
  3. There is a lot more attention being focused on alignment between curriculums and the instruction resulting in the test scores at the school;
  4. Those schools that have been identified as `low achievers ‘are undergoing extensive makeovers involving radical restructuring;
  5. Both the schools and teachers have been trying to raise the overall educational standards and qualifications of teachers. To an extent this has been successful but many teachers do not feel this will improve the overall quality of teaching and in some regards it will contribute to the decline in teachers entering the profession;
  6. On average students are taking a lot more examinations and tests;
  7. Schools have been criticised for paying too close an attention to achievement gaps as opposed to identifying the learning needs of specific student groups. Particularly relevant to language acquisition skills i.e. English in Latino and other minority groups.
  8. Those schools that have been tagged as in need of restructuring and improvement have not really been growing in number. This is considered unrealistic based upon the amount of change required in this area;
  9. The Federal role is taking a much bigger role in the development of the education process. It has been argued that this is a `big brother’ mentality and that it is not conducive to helping the educational system in the longer run.
  10. The extensive NCLB requirements have expanded the roles of State Governments and school officials and their respective operations. This has radically increased the costs at the state and local levels without any federal funding to support it.

References

Education Week. (2011, 10 18). No child left behind. Retrieved from Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/no-child-left-behind/

Mahar, M. (2011, 10 18). Health, Education and the Welfare of the Nation. Retrieved from Taking Note: http://takingnote.tcf.org/2009/03/building-on-success-the–correlation-between-education-poverty-and-health-is-so-tight-that-i–sometimes-think-we-ne.html

National Education Association. (2011, 10 18). No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) | ESEA. Retrieved from National Education Association: http://www.nea.org/home/NoChildLeftBehindAct.html

Rentner, J. J. (2006). Ten Big Effects > NCLB on Public Schools. Washington DC: Centre on Education Policy.

White, D. (2011, 10 18). Pros and Cons of no child left behind. Retrieved from About.com: http://usliberals.about.com/od/education/i/NCLBProsCons_2.htm

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