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The Pros and Cons of the No Child Left Behind Act - Essay Example

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The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002 was a major restructuring of the way we manage our public school systems. It instituted new guidelines on how we test our students and measure their success. It mandated increased accountability to schools and school districts in the areas of English proficiency, dropout rates, and redesignation rates of English language learners…
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The Pros and Cons of the No Child Left Behind Act
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Download file to see previous pages Yet, along with the greater emphasis put on student performance has come nationwide accountability and the unethical measures that school districts have implemented to meet the new federal guidelines.
The NCLB Act was designed primarily to aid poor, minority, and immigrant students by implementing testing standards and assuring no child was falling through the cracks and being left behind. To support this effort, the bill appropriated $650 million to be used by the states to instruct English language learners. This was a 50% increase in funding for these efforts over previous years (Crawford). In an era when education funding has suffered from so many cutbacks, the additional funding was a decided benefit for schools, especially with high immigrant populations. However, the new formula used to distribute the money resulted in the least populated states, such as North Dakota and Alaska, receiving a reduction in funding. This has resulted in fewer English Learner programs for Native Americans that are enrolled in public schools in these states (Crawford).
The NCLB Act requires that all students be tested at regular intervals to measure their progress in Math and English. School district funding and administrative control are dependent on acceptable results of this testing. This approach is well intentioned and can benefit the student by holding the schools accountable to their purpose, teaching the students. While the results of this testing have been unimpressive for the general student population, it has benefited students in the lower grades that are enrolled in an English Language Learner program (National Center for Educational Statistics). While forcing the schools to produce results, especially among the most challenged students, the Act has also had unintended consequences in this area. Because school funding is based on these results, districts have been anxious to exploit loopholes that may exempt many students from the testing requirements. During the most recent reporting period it was reported that the scores of two million students were omitted due to technicalities. These were the poorest performing students and it can be inferred that they were minority and immigrant students, the ones that NCLB was written to protect. (Bass, Dixon, and Feller).
The NCLB has given the education system uniform guidelines and standards that can be used to compare our past performance and gauge the success of our schools. It helps to identify which programs work and which ones fail. The goal of testing all students fairly is a great advantage if implemented correctly. However, when school funding, bonuses, and school control depend on the results of these tests, it becomes known as High Stakes Testing. Teachers are put in a position to "teach the test" at the expense of other equally important material. Measuring student progress may become meaningless under the current guidelines as Armein and Berliner report, "... the harder teachers work to directly prepare students for a high-stakes test, the less likely the test will be valid for the purposes it was intended". It has also been reported that Latino students have been encouraged to drop out of school to avoid taking the test in a school's effort to raise overall test ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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