No Child Left Behind Holds Some Back


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The purpose of the Bush Administration's monstrously long and complex No Child Left Behind Act is to close the gap in achievement levels between students with a long term goal of 100 percent proficiency in the 2013-2014 school year.

Proficiency in reading and math is measured in grades 3-8, 10, and at graduation. Schools that under-perform can lose money and even be closed down if they fail to meet the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) goals set forth in the legislation.

Teachers, like any professional given a defined goal that they must meet to keep their job, focus on preparing students for the proficiency exams. This has, no doubt, done some good for under-performing students; but, what has it done for students that excel? It seems to hold them back as attention is diverted in classrooms to the kids that are furthest behind.

There are other side effects of NCLB:

  • The law requires that states submit their plans for staffing schools to the U.S. Department of Education. Combining federal oversight with a state's higher requirements can make hiring a difficult minefield to negotiate.
  • Schools that fail to met AYP can come under increasing levels of sanctioning. Once a school is sanctioned, parents can transfer their students to unsanctioned schools. The majority of the transferring students are ones that are meeting proficiency levels - leaving schools with fewer resources and a harder goal. The performing children who aren't transferred from these schools find themselves held even further back.
  • The constant focus on testing weighs heavily on the teachers making an already underappreciated profession even less appealing. It also pushes some teachers to seek a move to grades that are outside the testing requirements.

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Read More About:   Bush Administration | Education | United States