What is the No Child Left Behind Act?
President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001January 8, 2002.The purpose of this act was to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to receive a high quality education and to reach a minimum proficiency on state standardized testing. All of this is to be accomplished through academic assessments, accountability systems, teacher preparation and training, curriculum that is aligned with state academic standards. This is meant to insure that progress can be measured against common expectations for student academic achievement. Many masters in education could be written from this act.
No Child Left Behind – The Governments Point of View
The desire of the government is predicated on the fact that there are a number of low achieving students in our school systems. There are many students who meet the highest of poverty levels and it is believed that this impacts the level of education that they achieve. Limited English proficient children do not achieve at the level of native students because they do not understand the language.
It is believed that if the teachers are held more accountable for the end product, then the students will score better and improve their academic standing. Concerning the teachers, it is believed that they will find more creative ways of addressing the needs of the students and be able to overcome the poverty, lack of language skills, and the poor attitude of students as they approach the upper grades. According to many people if the teacher is given more authority and responsibility for student performance, the students will just have to improve.
Success of the No Child Left Behind Act Requires Parent Involvement
The act is supposed to allow the parents more opportunity to participate in the education of their children. Parents are to work with the students at home and help the students learn to read and do basic math. This has created a problem in that many of the parents are not able to do this for the students as they are uneducated as well. In many cases, the parents do not really care what their students learn or don’t learn. They are not willing to accept their parental responsibility and ensure that their students do their homework or study as they should. Something has to be done to change the mindset of this type of parent.
Accountability for No Child Left Behind is Required, Both Districts and Teachers.
The accountability ax has fallen on the necks of some teachers and many programs that were deemed inadequate for the students. Instead of letting the teachers teach what the students need, much emphasis has been placed on teaching the test. It is hard to argue against teaching the test because if one knows the test material, one will score better, but that does little to train a creative and thinking student. There is so much more in the world that a student needs to be exposed to but it is impossible to argue against the fact that students must have a standard basic knowledge base from which to grow.
Is the No Child Left Behind Act Feasible?
The idea that no student can be left behind is a noble one, but it is hardly realistic. Regardless of what our thoughts are, until we can unscrew the top of a student’s head and pour in what knowledge he or she will need, many students will be left behind and for various reasons, some not associated with their educative abilities. It is hard to understand what happens from the time a student enters kindergarten to about the third grade, when some learning just stops for some students.
The False Expectations of the No Child Left Behind Act
The act that President Bush signed is a good act in that it does identify the problem areas of education and does provide the necessary funding for new programs, but what is missing from the act is the necessary change in human attitude toward what education really is. What must be done is to create within each and every parent the idea that an education is what every student needs and every parent should support. We should not expect that every student will be able to design the next spaceship or discover the next great medical cure, but we should expect every student to be able to read on an adult level and do the necessary math that will be of use to them in their life.
The Education Programs Included in the No Child Left Behind Act
The act does address reading and early reading and relies on the teachers to develop the needed programs to facilitate the acquisition of the skills.
Even Start - this is a program that attempts to get the entering students on about the same level. This program is probably in trouble as there is not any single way to be sure that each student is coming to school with the same preparation to learn.
Library Program – the bulking up of the library program is a great idea, but then the teachers have to get the students into the library in any way possible. Many students don’t like to read because they are used to seeing their novels or stories played out on the screen. The education of migratory children will always be a problem in that they move so frequently and the various schools in which they find themselves are always different from the ones they just left.
Intervention Programs – the last program of the act is the hardest of all to accomplish. Intervention programs for neglected, delinquent, or at risk students are tough to administer and see lasting results.
Special Education Students and the No Child Left Behind Act
The one thing that has not been touched on is the medically impaired students and what needs to be done with them. It has been suggested that these students be moved into the regular classroom with the expectation that the teacher will be able to modify the curriculum for them. A medically impaired student proves to be a challenge for any regular classroom teacher and in most cases, the teacher will find it difficult to make the necessary modifications to the program that Federal Law requires.