No child left behind act of 2001In 2001, United States House of Congress representatives John Beohner and Gary Miller, together with eighty-four other representatives, sponsored the H.R.1 bill entitled: “To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.
” The bill was subsequently approved by both the House of Congress and the House of Senate, and then eventually passed into law by President George W. Bush. The bill became Public Law No: 107-110 or the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001”. The purpose of the “No Child Left Behind Act”, as stated in Section 1001 of the said law, is “…to ensure that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” Apparently, there is a growing concern among the parents, teachers, students and Education officials about the widening gap between “high-achieving” and “low achieving” students. While many American students eventually learn and become proficient in reading and math, a certain percent of the student population would either fail out of school or get to graduate without really learning anything. Some kids in middle school or in high school even have difficulty reading and writing! To solve this problem, the law seeks to give all children, regardless of race, financial background, and personal history – equal opportunity to learn.
This will basically create a major “overhaul” of the country’s education system: from making sure that the learning institutions and teachers have the necessary funding to get the best training and acquire the best resources and materials for teaching; and making them accountable to the students’ performance; ensuring that the students are taught effectively using “scientific-based instructional strategies and challenging academic content”; to conducting yearly assessments to measure the students’ progress. From the annual assessment tests the State will be able to determine which learning institutions need to have more funding or support to help the students of that school perform better. Even the law does not exclude the “neglected” children or juvenile delinquents in the program.
The law states that these children should also be given the same opportunity to education (per Section 14) – and not just the “so-so” kind, but one that is at par with the education that the regular students have. This goes to show that the State is very much concerned with, and would like to invest on, the future of the kids who may have made mistakes in the past, probably brought about by their circumstances in life or otherwise, but who may still have the chance to reform. To measure the educational attainment or achievement of the students, Section 15 states that the State will conduct an annual assessment in reading and math for Grades 3 to 8. The advantages to this, in addition to being able to gauge the students’ performance, include being able to determine whether existing teaching methods are effective, and finding out which areas need improvement. The students may groan at the prospect of taking the annual assessments, but the effort should prove to be beneficial to both students and State alike. For example, taking into consideration West Virginia’s record of achievement for 2006-2007, it can be inferred that, in general, there’s a consistent performance in math with about 76% proficiency rating, whereas in Reading/Language there’s a slight decrease in proficiency from 81 – 79%. Between the two subjects, the proficiency in Reading/Language is higher than Math. The data also shows that the students with disabilities have the lowest proficiency rating, followed by the African American subgroup.
This type of data serves as a guide for the West Virginia state department of education to initiate more effective programs to improve general performance, especially in Math. Moreover, it also tells them that they should probably give more attention to the disabled and the minority students. Over the years since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, there have been claims made in favor of the law. At the same time, there have been criticisms. The favorable claims include the improvement in the performance of the students in the annual assessment; increased accountability which keeps school administrators and teachers up to their toes in ensuring their student population achieve their performance goals; increased attention to the students who belong to the minority groups; parents being given the choice to choose a school that is best for their children; and most of all – a general improvement in the quality of education because the schools are forced to meet a certain level of performance.
However, many critics have brought out to discussion the disadvantages of this law, with most criticisms being related to the annual exams/assessment. One concern is that the teachers may be encouraged to teach only the subjects or lessons that will most likely be given as questions in the annual assessment, without exploring other topics or going into an in-depth discussion or explanation of the lesson. Also, since the annual exams are on math and reading, some people are concerned that arts and social sciences will be neglected. Furthermore, due to the sanctions imposed on non-performing schools, there is a worry that the state will tend to lower expectations in order for the schools to have a greater chance of “making the cut”. In addition, there’s an issue with the funding, which does not seem to be enough for the implementation of the programs. In spite of the criticisms, however, it cannot be denied that this law has the welfare of the students and the state of education in the United States in mind. Thus, it is enjoying the solid support of the State departments and their respective schools, and probably by majority of the population. The law may have flaws, but there are always ways to rectify them in future amendments of the law.
Truly, it can be said that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is the cornerstone or landmark of the George W. Bush Administration.REFERENCESLibrary of Congress (Thomas). Public Law 107-111-JAN. 8, 2002. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://frwebgate.access.gpo.
gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=107_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ110.107.pdfLibrary of Congress (Thomas). H.
))+00102)))U.S. Department of Education. (2003).
No Child Left Behind: Parents Guide. Available from http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/nclbguide/parentsguide.pdfU.S. State Department of West Virginia.
No Child Left Behind West Virginia Resources. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://wvde.state.wv.us/wvachieves/resources.htmlNo Child Left Behind (2008). Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia.
Retrieved November 23, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act