No Child Left Behind

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In the case of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), is politics the enemy of problem solving? By examining selected political controversies surrounding NCLB, it will be demonstrated that politics is the enemy. Since NCLB’s enactment, vast amounts of research literature and news stories have been published on its effects, which demonstrates the impact and debate generated by this law. The major goals of this bipartisan legislation were to improve student performance through standardized testing by using data from annual test scores to measure each students’ and schools’ progress; to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their better-off counterparts; and to hold teachers and schools accountable. All these actions were to be carried out in order to improve educational outcomes. As the long title of the act specifies, NCLB is supposed to: “…close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice so that no child is left behind.” The law goes on to read, “…that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments" (P.L. 107-110, Title I). The legislation is ambitious, and seems well-intentioned, but as the years passed, numerous controversies and problems emerged. Background and Current Situation Essentially NCLB is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which originated in 1965. There have been a number of iterations of the law over the years, with the latest being NCLB. ESEA has been due for reauthorization since 2007 and currently the Obama administration has introduced the “Blueprint for Change”... ... middle of paper ... ...d implemented. Years of empirical research leads to common recommendations for improvement such as uniform academic and teacher qualification standards and attracting highly-qualified teachers to low-performing schools (Stecher et al., 56–59). However, to develop student performance even further, some policy areas, such as social welfare (which is beyond the scope of NCLB) need to be coordinated with educational policy. Considering gridlock is the current political situation in Congress, it seems unlikely that any recommendations put forth by education policy and poverty experts will be considered. Many researchers agree on solutions that need to be implemented in the U.S., and have been successful in other countries, but politics, our political system, the budget crisis, and political attitudes in this country are barriers to potentially successful solutions.

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