NCLB the Impact of No Child Left Term Paper

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The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Teachers, Students, and Parents

The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, which was implemented by President George Bush, aims to bring all students up to the proficient level on state tests by 2014, and to hold states and schools completely accountable for results. NCLB requires all districts and schools that receive Title I funds to meet state "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) goals for their entire student populations and for specified demographic subgroups, including major ethnic and racial groups; students from low-income families; limited English proficient (LEP) students, and students with disabilities. If these schools do not meet AYP goals for two or more years, they are considered schools "in need of improvement" and face consequences, including fines and loss of privileges.

NCLB ensures that states align tests with state academic standards and start testing students on an annual basis in reading and math in elementary schools. It also requires the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics tests to be given to a sample of fourth and eighth graders in each state every other year in order to make cross-state comparisons. NCLB also requires school districts to hire teachers that are "highly qualified" to teach core academic subjects in Title I programs. Finally, states are required to issue annual report cards for both schools and districts.

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This act redefined the federal role in K-12 education with special emphasis on closing the achievement gap between groups of students. The act is based on four principles (Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2005):

Stronger accountability for results

Increased flexibility and local control

Expanded options for parents

Term Paper on NCLB the Impact of No Child Left Assignment

Emphasis on teaching methods that have proven to work

President Bush implemented the Act to counter the belief that many young men and women, especially those in urban areas, fall behind and never reach their potential. His argument was as follows (Kafer, 2004): "Too many children in America are segregated by low expectations, illiteracy, and self-doubt. In a constantly changing world that is demanding increasingly complex skills from its workforce, children are literally being left behind. It doesn't have to be this way."

The Act impacts teachers and schools in another way, as well. Under the NCLB, "qualified" teachers are required to have a bachelor's degree, be state certified, and demonstrate subject-area mastery by having their college degree in the subject they teach or passing a state test on the subject (Kafer, 2004). These provisions have resulted in the elimination of some good teachers because they are unqualified on paper, while those who meet the requirements but do not teach well are rewarded. The problem is especially challenging in urban schools, where one teacher may teach multiple subjects.

If the NCLB Act is successful, by 2014, all children who attend public schools will be proficient in reading, math and science (Heath, 2002). This puts a lot of pressure on those who are employed in the public school system. All schools in districts that accept Title 1 federal funds are now required to make detailed annual reports on the progress of all children. Each school must also report the progress of four subgroups: minority children, children with disabilities, children with limited English proficiency, and children from low-income families. Any district that does not effectively raise the level of all students, immediately and steadily, to the state-defined level of proficiency, will lose control.

Supporters of NCLB believe the law will bridge the academic achievement gap between rich and poor students by taking measures to ensure that low-performing schools improve test scores among all racial and income groups (The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, 2006). However, opponents argue that the law aims for unrealistic goals and unfairly punishes poor schools for failing to meet the goals because the negative consequences only apply to Title I schools, those that receive federal funding due to a high number of poor students. They also claim the federal government has failed to provide sufficient funds to allow schools to pay for required strategies if they don't meet the goals.

Results of the Act

The long-term results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- "The Nation's Report Card" (NAEP) -- showed 30 years of modestly rising test scores and a narrowing achievement gap (American School Board Journal, 2006). "Today's report card is proof that No Child Left Behind is working," said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. "It is helping to raise the achievement of young students of every race and from every type of background."

NCLB has focused attention on the performance of poor, minority, and low-performing students (American School Board Journal, 2006). Still, while attention is beneficial, but it can also have negative consequences. According to a report by the Harvard Civil Rights Project, NCLB's accountability mandates have a disparate impact on large urban districts with large low-income and minority populations. These districts are now motivated to adopt quick fixes in an attempt to avoid fines and criticism. "NCLB, a law designed to end the achievement gaps among racial, ethnic, and economic groups, too often disrupts serious reform efforts in favor of short-term test preparation and drill strategies," the report stated.

Under the NCLB Act, detailed information about the performance of schools in the district and subgroups of children must be provided to anyone who asks for this information (Heath, 2002). Thus, teachers are likely studying this information before deciding to apply for a position in a school, district, or state. This holds a potentially negative implication for urban schools, which are often underperformers. Good teachers will be reluctant to work at a school that has a high dropout rate or is unsuccessful, as they will be assessed in that light.

Student test results now impact everyone employed by the school district. Elementary teachers are required to teach all children. These teachers must learn how to assess children and how to use assessment results to effectively teach. If a child does not respond to one method of instruction, the teacher must use a different method. Teachers must use research-based methods of teaching. In addition, principals must redesign their schools, implement research-based curricula, ensure that teachers are trained in research-based instructional methods, and provide core reading knowledge to all teachers. Principals who effectively increase their school's effectiveness must be prepared for sudden increases in student population.

One positive result of the Act is that there is finally a way to draw attention to what does not work and to fix it (Heath, 2002). Teachers who want to teach a solid curriculum will have that curriculum. Teachers will receive ongoing training to help them be better teachers.

Impact on Assessment

Testing is a major part of the NCLB Act. Testing information enables teachers to know whether students are learning the material. This information is useful for school leaders in making management decisions and for parents in choosing schools and making sure that their children are performing well.

The NCLB Act has a tremendous impact on assessment, which affects teachers, parents and students. The main goal of assessment is to judge how well a student has learned course material (Kandlbinder, 2004). This information has a variety of uses, but is primarily used to improve student learning or to gauge student performance. These purposes of assessment make it one of the most important aspects of teaching. In the process of assessing students, specific messages are sent about what is important in a course. The recognition that assessment represents the curriculum is usually followed by the observation that teachers can use these effects to influence student learning.

The importance of assessment in learning has long been recognized by educators and has been central to the learning experience in students' minds (Rice and Holt, 2002). Assessment has a tendency to impact students learning, so what has not been formally assessed is often not learned (with the exception of by highly motivated, high achievers). The predominance of essays and traditional midterm and final examinations in traditional assessment has a tendency to constrain learning because students focus solely on what they need to learn to pass the class.

In addition, it is important to note that assessment tasks that are good for some students are not always good for everyone. However, by creating a range of assessment incorporating oral and written activities, assignments and exams, specific preferences are not advantaged over others, resulting in more equitable outcomes (Rice and Holt, 2002). The meaning and contextualization of an assessment approach could be explained more clearly for students by providing a medium aligning tasks with a rationale, learning objectives, how they relate to the overall curriculum, and the expected long-term benefits of completing the assessment.

While assessment can potentially improve learning for all students, it has traditionally acted as a barrier to educational opportunities (Dietel, Herman and Knuth, 1991). Assessments have labeled students and put them in negative situations. Traditional tests are criticized as biased and unfair to minority students. And, the assessment of language minority… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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