The No Child Left Behind Act

Introduction

The “No Child Left Behind” act concerns the improvement of the standards of learning across public schools in America. It requires schools to test student performance every year by way of examinations. Every state is mandated to provide these tests to all pupils of each grade in order to qualify for government funding in the educational sector. The policy seeks to implement a reality that each student can improve his or her overall performance by aiming for quantifiable goals.

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Opposition

Various states have opposed the policy because they do not feel that the government adequately funds them (McGuinn, 2006). The provision of examinations undertaken by students every year requires adequate funding in order for the policy to yield favorable results. The government suggested these changes in the first place. The government then expects the public school’s administrations to acquire funding from diverse sources as it is to their credit if their students perform well. The well-meaning government thus has to tackle the apathy of school administrations who are accustomed to lukewarm performances. The tutors have learned to put up with shoddy work and have perfected the ways of surviving in spite of unenthusiastic student populations. The implementation of the “No Child Left Behind” policy will mean that the students, as well as the teachers, make efforts to improve the learning environment.

Other schools have also argued that this policy seeks to solve learning problems without understanding the causes of student apathy in the first place. School lecturers are better placed to understand the unique challenges faced by various communities. Thus, they are better placed to suggest and execute solutions that will solve the problems. It has also been argued that individual states can set easier examinations to ensure that their students meet the government stipulations. This defeats the very purpose of the “No Child Left Behind” policy in the first place.

Support for the Act

This policy ensures that a well-performing child in an underperforming institution has the choice to transfer to the school of their choice (Overbaugh and Lu, 2008). They may also benefit from tutoring on request. The funds received by the schools that observe the requirements of the policy can attract first-rate tutors and lecturers. They will also start school programs that benefit their student population.

An Educational Experience

While the goals that the NCLB policy seeks to achieve are admirable, its realization exerts a negative toll on the student population in schools. Schools that wish to benefit from government funds will ensure that their students do well in the examinations provided by their states. This can mean that they cut back on recess time to ensure that students use the maximum time possible in reading for the examinations. This results in students who have few if any social skills and who accumulate excess weight due to having no time to exercise. One observation I have made in the life of my niece who is in a public school is the less emphasis on physical activity and social subjects. Lessons in Music and History are abandoned for the subjects that are tested in the state-set examinations. Students need to perform well in order for the school to continue receiving funding.

My niece, who does not have her strengths in Math, has had to surrender most of her school time to drills in this subject that she hates in the first place. She has begun to resent school days and will give any excuse to avoid school. This is a shocking transformation in a young person who enjoyed school not so long ago and knew the names of all the history and French teachers in her school. The NCLB policy has not enhanced her performance in the subjects it regularly tests. Alternatively, it has ensured the waning of interest in the subjects she once enjoyed.

The Current Status of ‘No Child Left Behind’ Policy

Recent developments as concerns the NCLB policy have included the waiving programs for states that are ready to embrace reforms suggested by the government. These waivers include schools that show progress and the potential for achieving even greater results. Some argue that these waivers will give the government even more power over the states’ schools than reforming the NCLB policy would afford. However, the schools that have benefitted from the waiver program are in agreement with the statutes of the policy. They have reported moderate improvements because of benefitting from government funds.

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Changes Proposed

One of the results of the NCLB policy is that public schools have taken to concentrating on coaching students for the sole purpose of passing the examinations. This means that there is an overemphasis on the minimum attainment for students with challenges. In this way, students are not encouraged to aim for the most that they believe they can accomplish. In order to tackle such gaps, the present government administration has proposed that states be allowed to come up with their own solutions (Gay, 2007). They are best placed to realize the challenges in the various student demographics that cause low marks. They will make the necessary changes with the government funds without having an examination to prepare for. The removal of such pressure will ensure that there is adequate time to identify and address the problems faced by various students.

Apart from identifying the causes of student apathy, states will also be charged with ensuring that their student population acquires the knowledge necessary for admission to universities. Systems that prize high achieving institutions and document student progress must be put in place.

References

Gay, G. (2007). The Rhetoric and Reality of NCLB. Race, Ethnicity & Education, 10(3), 279–293.

McGuinn, P. (2006). No Child Left Behind and the Transformation of Federal Education Policy 1965-2005 (Studies in Government & Public Policy). Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Overbaugh, R., & Lu, R. (2008). The Impact of an NCLB- EETT Funded Professional

Development Program on Teacher Self Efficacy and Resultant Implementation. Journal of Research of Technology in Education, 41(1), 43–61.

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