The installment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was initially seen as a breakthrough step in helping all children reach academic proficiency standards while simultaneously helping to create better schools and educators. But as Bush’s education law celebrates its 10th birthday, many are finally realizing that NCLB’s promise was just too good to be true. Now critics are labeling the law as federal overreach and insisting that changes have to be made to alter the Act’s impractical expectations. Here are the highlights of NCLB, so you can decide for yourself.
How it was designed:
- States must individually develop achievement standards if they are to receive Federal funding
- Within each state, all students in the same grade must complete the required basic skills assessment
- Schools will be publicly labeled based on their test results, to increase accountability on a school and teacher level
- By the year 2014, every child will test on grade level in reading and math
- The Act brought awareness to neglected schools where many thought performance was normal
- Based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), test scores in reading and math improved in several age groups, particularly within the lowest-achieving students
- According to the National Council for Disabilities (NCD), NCLB has changed the attitude towards students with disabilities by including them within the statewide standards
- The importance of standardized testing altered the material being taught in class, encouraging teachers to focus on a more narrow set of skills (think less art, science, and history, more reading and math) just so they can pass the assessment
- High-performing and gifted students are now receiving less attention than other students and have seen slower progress
- Thousands of schools were labeled as failures (a term that becomes less inspiring year after year)
- The gains seen based on test scores have plateaued, perhaps signaling the need for an update
To gain more insight on the No Child Left Behind debate, click here.