NCLB and why it couldn’t possibly work


No Child Left Behind was an educational reform policy developed and implemented in 2001 by George W. Bush. This program supported standards-based education reform with the goal of improving education for the nation as a whole. However, this policy was without a doubt, destined to fail. This act required states to develop test that assessed basic skills. These tests would be a tool to measure the success and efficiency of schools within the state. States would individually set goals that they wanted their schools to meet and schools were required to meet these goals. The intention was that all schools, in every state, in every district would meet the national standard within 12 years. The act also reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary education Act and included Title I provisions for disadvantaged students.

The problems with No Child Left Behind are numerous. It is very unrealistic to believe that these goals could actually be met. In addition to this, the Title I provisions were almost impossible for these disadvantaged school to follow, leading children in these schools even more disadvantaged. Schools that received Title I funding at to show Adequate Yearly Progress. This basically meant that each classes scores on the standardized tests how to be an improvement on the previous year’s scores. (i.e. a fifth grade class had to do better than the previous years fifth grade class) Yes, you may be questioning right now how this is in any way fair. The answer is, it wasn’t. Teachers were supposed to make sure that students improved on the scores of a completely different set of students! How was this in anyway an indication of teacher success or student knowledge really?

If a school didn’t show AdequateYearly Progress (AYP) there were serious consequences. Missing AYP for the second consecutive year meant that the school was publicly labeled as in need of improvement. Missing AYP for another year (now up to 3 missed years) meant the school was required to offer free tutoring. The fourth consecutive missed AYP year meant the school was labeled in need of corrective action. This type of corrective action could mean staff replacement, new curriculum, or extending class times. The fifth year of missing AYP could result in a school being closed.

Can you imagine this, schools for children who probably need school more than the average student in order to possibly get out of the situation they are currently living in, had their schools closed down. Obviously they wouldn’t not have a school to go to but the action of closing down these schools was very disruptive. This would mean that students would go to a school not near their home which could require long bus rides or parents to drive these students to school, which would most likely not be an option for many parents who might have work. This action plan was not fair in the least. Can you even picture what it would be like for your schools to be closed? The measurement that decided whether or not these schools would have to close wasn’t even fair, measuring one group of students against another set can’t possibly be fair!

I will be posting more on this in the coming weeks!

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2 Responses to NCLB and why it couldn’t possibly work

  1. claire.s says:

    Sydney, I too am confused by the consequences that schools face under NCLB when they do not meet adequate yearly progress. To my knowledge of the information I have seen about NCLB, there is no action that provides schools with more funding or resources when they are labeled as in need of improvement or corrective action. Rather, as you stated, consequences are a requirement to offer free tutoring, staff replacement, new curriculum, or extending class times. These all seem to be things that would stretch the resources of the school even more thin. Is the money that goes to paying teachers to provide free tutoring coming from the textbook fund that would get materials into the hands of those students in the first place? Who do these consequences punish? To me it seems like they target the teachers, without recognizing the underlying problem that massive role that school funding plays into student success! As we talked about in class last week, it is most likely that impoverished schools are going to be serving students in poverty, who are the ones that are most likely to not reach AYP. Do you agree that NCLB could benefit from shifting from punishing teachers and schools for not reaching AYP to targeting schools that are “in need of improvement” as the ones to provide with more resources? Are there any counterarguments to this view?


  2. Pingback: NCLB and why it couldn’t possibly work: Part 2 | The Politics of Reading

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