Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can we leave some of them behind?

The No Child Left Behind Act is a nice thought. Wouldn't it be ideal if all children could receive a high quality education and do well in school? The idea behind the No Child Left Behind Act was a good one, but several flaws and oversights have led it to have the opposite effect.
The purpose of the Act was to guarantee all children the opportunity of receiving a quality education regardless of disability or minority status. Its goal was to have all children reach the level of proficient in the areas of reading and math according to state academic achievement standards and tests. The Act planned for 100 percent proficiency by 2014.
The most blatant problem here is that the Act left it up to the states to define what "proficient" means. This allows for there to be a discrepancy among states of levels of achievement, meaning some students are being challenged where others are not. This also creates a difference in scores on state and national tests. In 2003, 58 percent of Maryland's fourth-graders passed the state reading test but only 32 percent passed the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). That same year, Mississippi's fourth-graders had a gap of 89 percent and 18. This proves that schools are lowering their standards to produce an image of improvement.
Also the aim for 100 percent proficiency encompasses all students, disabled and advanced alike, which is unrealistic. All students cannot achieve to a high standard and some may just not want to. The only way schools have found to make up for this is to set the bar lower.
Another flaw is the punishment that low-performing schools receive. The NAEP has become tool to measure whether a school is progressing to meet the Act's standards. When a school is found to be failing, funds can be cut or redirected towards tutoring programs, and students are given the option to transfer to schools that pass the Act's standards. Pulling resources and students from troubled schools doesn't seem like a way to improve them.
We have dug ourselves into a hole that just keeps getting deeper. To meet the Act's requirements and avoid punishment, schools continue to lower their standards to create an appearance of progress and "proficiency." Slipping standards has reduced the quality of education students receive, which is why this law was written in the first place. Improving the level of education was a nice idea, but expecting schools to make every single child succeed was too much. Now No Child Left Behind might as well be Every Child Left Behind.

--waffle crisp--


No Name said...

Your neglecting the fact though that these children are doing better. If you look at the provisions and statements outlined by the NCLB act all were met in some way shape or form over the time alloted.
The first provision was to improve tests scores in which if you look at the Department of Education reports our reading has shot up astronomically. Many other reports show the same improvements just in different fields.

The next point of the NCLB was to increase accountability and it achieves this by watching the students reports.Accountability of the school is then meet through the AYP and the consequences there.

THe next few I'll just highlight and it's that the NCLB was going to show more attention to minority students, imporve quality of education, and allow for school choice. All met if you do the research.

The NCLB bill is not flawed in any way it's the people that try to carry it out or want to cheat the system. I will admit you can cheat the system or have some form of artifically changing the scores to show succes but in a whole it's been a benefit to the america schooling. Also trying to write it from our point of view where we have some of the best schools in the U.S. and the NCLB didn't change much is a little bias.

MachV said...

This is probably the only political issue I have ever discussed with my parents. Obviously, the standards for education in the United States are beginning to lag behind that of other countries. When you also consider that the United States spends more money on its educational programs than any other country in the world, a serious problem develops. Basically, we aren't getting any smarter, but the price tag on education is still getting bigger. The No Child Left Behind Act has a good intent, however, I think that we are beginning to get close to a Harrison Bergeron effect;our standards our being lowered for the sake of not leaving anyone out when we should be pushing the bar and challenging all students. Only this, I think, will help the United States compete with other countries in matters of science and industry.

MachV said...

(No Name)'s argument holds some validity, however, the whole thing about getting better is who exactly is getting better? how much are they improving? and once again, how does this "better" education compare to that of other countries?

If you look specifically at these three points then I think that you'll find that in leaving no child behind, the federal and state governments are abandoning those kids they consider "profiecient enough" in order to help those that struggle become "average".

Call me unsympathetic, but scientifically, it's survival of the fittest that leads to evolution, where as No Child Left Behind is accomplishing nothing for the progression of science and research in the United States.

Mister T said...

Let's not forget that the reason why American standards of education are lower than other countries' standards. That reason is that the federal government requires that all children go to school. In many other countries, getting an education is a huge privelage, so of course the standards of education are much higher. I'm not saying that the US should get rid of public education, but I am saying that it shouldn't be a shock that the quality of American education is lower than other countries that don't offer universal public education.