A government attempt to fix American Education| Erica Cowan| Abstract Despite the vast majority of Americans that are educated though public school systems very successfully, many student of minority or low-income backgrounds have been “left behind. ” The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), was the Bush administration’s attempt to help ensure that every public school student had a right to a solid education. A main goal was to have every school achieve higher scores on standardized testing each year and eventually by 2014 every student should score proficiently on their tests.
Funding for NCLB was supposed to cover all the added costs that the schools would occur, but the funding ran out and schools are running out of resources to help their students. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was created to ensure that all student were given a fair opportunity to receive a good education from the public school systems. Before 2001, there was a large performance gap between students with a higher economic advantage and those students with less wealth. There was also a pattern of minority groups achieving less than white students in specific areas of school. ‘[W]e understand now that there are some basic tools that have to be put in place so that we give those children who are among the most disadvantaged in our country, who go to school in some of the poorer schools that they, in fact, get a very real opportunity in education,’ Rep. George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, told the NewsHour in 2001” (Nwazota, 2005). NLCB was the largest increase in the Federal government’s role in education since the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965.
What is No Child Left Behind? George W. Bush and his administration proposed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“No Child Left Behind,” 2004). NCLB is based on ideas of creating reasonable, measurable goals and holding schools accountable for accomplishing and meeting all of the set standards. Each state has a different set of standards for their schools. If the schools do not meet the basic skills standards their federal funding gets revoked.
Since 2001, at the time NCLB was enacted federal funding for education has increased $12. 2 billion by 2007 (U. S. Department of Education, 2006). President George W. Bush proposed the Act late January 2001. Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), Senators Ted Kennedy (D-NA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) all contributed ideas to the policies described in The Act (Amos, 2010). President Bush signed the Act into law on January 8th, 2002. NCLB requires all schools to have standardized testing if they are receiving federal funding.
Federal Funding is based on the results from the tests. The schools that do not achieve proficient levels on each test get marked as schools in need of assistance. Parents have the opportunity to have their children transfer to another school and schools have to offer after school or summer school programs. Goals of No Child Left Behind Focusing on core subjects, such as math, English, history, and science is a main goal of the No Child Left behind act. Standardized testing is a way to measure students’ progress. NCLB requires that states develop and implement math and reading standards by the 2005-2006 school year and then test children in grades 3 through 8 to make sure that students are on track to achieve 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Schools must also test at least once during grades 10 through 12” (Clapman, 2005). Each state has to create its own tests; the law does not allowed for federally controlled curriculum. Without one federal standard, there is a very wide variety of scores that come from the tests. Every state has its own assessment of proficiency which leads to misleading communication errors.
By the year 2014, all schools should have 100% of its students reaching a “proficiency level” on the standardized tests. Every year since 2002, the goal has been to increase the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). With the plan that was set, by 2014 every student should be able to pass every exam. If schools cannot meet the specified AYP, it becomes identified as a school needing improvement. If no improvement occurs the school will be subject to a complete takeover. There are very specific categories of progress that need to be reported. Every sub group needs to have improvement in its AYP. ‘The result is that the lowest-performing subgroup will ultimately determine the proficiency of a school, district or state,’ says Rich Cardullo, one of the authors of a paper published in the September 26th issue of Science magazine, which analyzes testing data from California’s elementary schools” (“All students proficient on state tests by 2014,” 2008). All teachers are required to become “highly qualified. ” Every teacher must have at least a bachelor’s degree, full state certification, and have demonstrated knowledge in the core subject they are instructing.
To demonstrate knowledge, new teachers must take and pass their state’s certification exam or they must meet a “High, Objective, Uniform Standard of Evaluation” or HOUSE. There is also an Alternative Certification Program where teachers can teach while they are still being trained and certified (“Are you ‘highly qualified’ according to NCLB? ” 2010). Parents should have more options when sending their children to school. If a child attends a school that persistently fails its standardized tests, their child can receive tutoring or attend after school and summer school programs.
Parents also have the option to transfer their child into a different school district, including charter schools. The creators and supporters of the No Child Left Behind Act feel that when the parents are more aware and in control of their child’s education there will be a greater sense of accountability (Orfield, n. d. ). When parents choose to have their children transfer to different schools, the schools have to cover the cost of transporting the students to the new school. When funding is already too little, this has caused more problems. Achievement Gap
The term “achievement gap” refers to “observed disparity on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, ability, and socioeconomic status,” (“Achievement gap: Facts, Discussion Forum, and Encyclopedia Article,” n. d. ). Each student must be given an equal opportunity according to No Child Left Behind. Teachers must make sure to help low-income students and minority students because a main goal of the Act is to narrow the achievement gap between children of minority or low-income and children of the majority or middle or high class income.
According to the Act, there should be a very small difference between sub groups of students since every student is provided with equal opportunities while at public schools. Progress in Public Schools Most schools are not meeting the Adequate Yearly Progress. They are not meeting the expected goals that were set in the No Child Left Behind Act. Schools are focusing on teaching their students to memorize the rubrics and types of questions asked on the standardized tests and then students are not learning the actual core material. The progress that has been made is extremely hard to measure accurately.
Schools must report the scores of their standardized tests. They are not reporting the reasons why the students didn’t do well, such as skipping class, not doing homework, or not paying attention. Students are responsible for making sure kids are forced to do well on these tests or they could be replaced. Students are often allowed to slide through high school, because the teachers look bad if they give the students the failing grade that they have earned. If students do badly, whether they are being lazy or truly having a difficult time grasping each subject, the school loses money.
In the system created by No Child Left Behind, schools and teachers are held more accountable and students and parents no longer have a responsibility. Gifted or Talented Students NCLB requires schools to have all students reach the average, and no higher. Schools have so much pressure to maintain proficiency that they focus on helping the students who have a tough time in school rather than dividing efforts to challenge gifted students to keep their creative minds learning. Without being challenged, gifted students will become bored and either get into trouble or settle and become lazy.
Schools will eventually digress instead of the progress that is projected in the Act. The Act expects every year to have better results than the last when schools are falling behind trying to just make sure their student are up to par that they have no time or resources left to helps students learn anymore. Students won’t advance and they will begin to form the habit of only achieving minimum, and no more. Minorities or Low-Income Students No Child Left Behind aims to narrow the gap between all students.
By creating common expectations for all students, minorities and majorities should be able to obtain the same quality of education. Schools must report the scores of each defined sub group. The schools are responsible for making their own sub groups, examples include: low-income, minorities, and non-fluent English speakers. As stated in the Act, students that are learning the English language have three years that they can take their standard tests in their native language. Many states do not give English learning students the test in their native language, but instead in English (Crawford, n. . ). Many states are frustrated by the No Child Left Behind Act and it does cost more to have the tests made so they feel that they shouldn’t have to. This could be a factor to the lower proficiency scores and could also increase the size of the achievement gap. The AYP has increased over the years, but not on the track that was set by President George W. Bush. Inadequate Funding For the Act The costs implemented by the No Child Left Behind Act are higher than the funding available. Schools have to continually cut their budget. The mandated testing is the greatest expense.
There needs to be money to pay for the making, administering, and scoring every test. The New Hampshire School Administrators Association calculated that No Child Left Behind will require $575 per student to meet the requirements, while schools are only being funded $77 per student. “David Shreve of the National Conference of State Legislatures calculated the real cost of the law will be $35 billion annually,” (“Inadequate Funding Makes NCLB Worse,” 2003). It is difficult to determine the actual cost of making a student reach a proficient level.
The Bush Administration underestimated every year of No Child Left Behind. “Connecticut estimated the marginal administrative costs to be $112. 2 million, of which the federal government would pay $70. 6 million. Therefore, Connecticut will face a shortfall of $41. 6 million. Hawai’i estimated that the additional administrative costs represent a 2% increase in per-pupil spending in 2004, growing to 3. 5% in 2008. Virginia’s study shows a $61 million annual shortfall,” (“Access Quality Education: No Child Left Behind Policy Brief,” n. d. ). Reforming the Act ‘There’s a fallacy in the law and everybody knows it,’ said Alabama State Superintendent Joe Morton on Wednesday, August 11, 2010. According to the No Child Left Behind Act, by 2014 every child is supposed to test on grade level in reading and math. ‘That can’t happen,’ said Morton. ‘You have too many variables and you have too many scenarios, and everybody knows that would never happen. ’ Alabama State Board Member Mary Jane Caylor said, ‘I don’t think that No Child Left Behind has benefited this state. ’ She argued the goal of 100 percent proficiency is unobtainable,” (Stephens, 2010).
No Child Left Behind uses scientific research to determine formulas and inflexible methods of measuring and administering education. “School leaders who depend on federal funding are now required to be aware of the nature of the research that guides their programs and practices. In particular, federal funding decisions will be determined in part by whether programs and practices have a basis in ‘scientific research,’” (Beghetto, 2003). There needs to be a new way of assessing progress that can fully account for every aspect of education.
There are many organizations that have come up with solutions that could help solve the problems cause by No Child Left Behind. The Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind Act is a proposal signed by 155 people with suggestions for corrections of the act. Suggestions include: increasing funding so that better research can be done, replace the proficiency target, look at individual student growth, or create more means of measurement besides standardized testing. Funding needs to be increased so that all eligible children of Title 1 can be served.
Sanctions that have not been successful should be removed from the Act. Schools should be allowed to access their students, instead of overloading them with testing (Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, 2004). Reform is difficult because of the controversy between conservatives and liberals. The Act has become a political debate, so agreement is very difficult to achieve. President Barack Obama has been trying to make changes to the No Child Left Behind Act. He feels that Washington should have less power.
Read the article – Adult Children of Same-Sex and Heterosexual Couples: Demographic “Thriving”, then respond to the following questions: 1. In light of what you have learned in this paper, discuss how children’s development is influenced differently when they grow up in various family structural configurations. 2. What question(s) has this paper raised for you – things that upcoming research in this area could look at?
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