Signed into law by President George W. Bush last January 8, 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act or NCLB act has been the latest and is considered as the most momentous and major initiative in the Federal education policy. It is a revision of the former Elementary and Secondary Education Act more notably known as the ESEA passed on 1965. The laws enactment is based upon the general purpose of ensuring that every child studying in Americas public schools will be able to reach the standards of learning set upon and common to wherever state the child resides.
The primary goals of this act aside from reaching high quality of education is to excel primarily in reading proficiency and mathematical skills by the end of 2013-2014. Specifically, it intends to increase reading comprehension and proficiency of all third grade students by the same year. It also wishes to improve the proficiency of all limited English speakers. The act also requires that by the year 2005 to 2006, all teachers in the United States Public schools shall be highly qualified.
This means that all teachers shall pass the minimum qualifications set by the act which includes, a bachelors degree, a full state certification and demonstration of subject-matter competency for each subject taught and a report of the teachers progress in the annual report cards (Paige, 3). This paper intends to dwell into the objectives set by the act and to look deeply on its effectiveness, perceived flaws and possible reforms. In its six year of existence, the law has generated both praise and criticism from the general public. The efficiency of the act has since been debated. Its effectiveness is questioned mainly due to the lack of budget and resources, poor implementation and manipulation of results.
The NCLB looks forward in helping the different States in strengthening the reading programs from grades 3 to 8, creating charter schools, establishing before and/or after school programs, developing professional and high quality education through teachers preparedness and parental participation. For the states to receive federal funding they are required by the NCLB Act to create ways of assessing the basic skills of students in certain grades. With this regard, the standards of education is not set by the national government or authority, instead, it is based upon individual criteria of each states.
Statement of the Problem
As of the moment there are several controversies surrounding the effectiveness of the NCLB act even after studies and results of research shows an increase in reading proficiency and mathematical skills of the students in American public schools. The main objective of this research project is to try to understand if the NCLB act is meeting its goals.
Background of the problem
It is believed that in the six years since the enactment of the NCLB act it has so far produces problems on the issues on education rather than resolves them. The act is a federal effort to support the primary and secondary education in the United States (Paige, 1). Fundamentally, it is outlined to accommodate the four-common-sense pillars: accountability for results, an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research, expanded parental options and expanded local control and accountability (Paige, 1).
The act is funded upon the participation of the States on the program, this ought to reflect that the standards are set and enforced effectively. It is believed that by so doing, the States would enforce and tighten their standards to achieve the desired goals of the act. Those who cannot comply with the standards would need to undergo a scientifically based research that will aim on developing a plan to turn around school (Paige, 2). The school that will be consider as in need of improvement will have to spend at least ten percent of their Title 1 funds to assist teachers (Paige, 2).
Since the act provides a system of rewards and punishments for participating schools and states, issues regarding test scores manipulation has challenge the validity of practicing and participating in the act in general. To be able to determine the proficiency and skills of the students the States needs to give them a standardized exam. Given that the test is made by each State, there is a possibility that they will lower the standard of their test to be able to meet the standards set by the act.
Another important issue that is being voiced by a majority of critics involves the focus in achieving basic and technical skills mainly in Mathematics and English language. This might affect the ability of the child to explore other areas of education. Also, since the test is standardized in States, there is a problem regarding the skills and abilities of local natives. People have different talents.
People vary in their ability to adapt and to learn. Forcing a specific education to the majority of the people will logically result to a cut back in other areas of education, skills and abilities. Although, Mathematics and English are very important skills, there are things that are being sacrificed because of the narrowing down of the curriculum.
Theoretical Basis for the Study
The theoretical basis for this study will be grounded in the law and the learning theory. So far, the federal law has found that the NCLB act, as most statesman claims is not fully funded. As mentioned by the American Federation of Teachers or AFT, the promise to fund NCLB remains unfulfilled. This shortfall has undercut the efforts of states, districts and schools at a time when they are working to meet new, rigorous requirements for students and teachers (www.aft.org).
Learning theorist such as that of Skinner seems to be the framework that shall be used to follow the NCLB program. Skinner believes that pleasant experiences cause positive behavior while punishments are effective negative reinforces. Nonetheless, this type of learning theory has long been debunk and is not an effective means to teach students. As Roxanne Everhard mentions in a formal paper:
Like many K-12 classroom teachers who try to use the constructivism approach to teaching, I do my best to provide an atmosphere where students are able to explore and integrate knowledge into their own prior experiences.
Constructivism is a learning theory that is more inclined on a facilitator-based learning. This learning theory tries to show that there are times when test results do not necessarily reflect the capability and achievements of students. In this view, one can asses, that the NCLB may indeed create a narrowing of curriculum, it might even hinder some students from achieving their full potentials.
Limitations are foreseen upon the national data and statistics that is needed to show that there are indeed a decreasing pattern in the quality education of the American population. However, this will not greatly affect the research since, there are enough internet access and literature on the data of drop outs or push out of students starting 2002 in public schools in order to attain or meet the NCLB standards. Some states might have available data regarding health problems or issues regarding the effects of NCLB on the student, however, some states do not.
Descriptive Research: Descriptive research attempts to describe systematically the facts and characteristics of a given population or area of interest, factually and accurately. Descriptive research is used in the literal sense of describing situations or events; its data base is solely descriptive.
The researcher makes a systematic analysis and description of the facts and characteristics of a given population or event of interest. The purpose of this form of research is to provide a detailed and accurate picture of the phenomenon as a means of generating hypotheses and pinpointing areas of needed improvements. (Person, 2008) It does not necessarily seek or explain relationships, test hypotheses or make predictions.
This includes the number of students enrolled in public schools from the year 2002 to 2008. It shall also include the number of drop outs, discharged or push out students.
Definition of Terms
Organization of the Study
Chapter two will present a review of related literature which includes the claims and articles in favor and not in favor of the NCLB Act. The next chapter will then specify the methods of research and the appropriate designs and procedures in researching for this study. The fourth chapter is basically presentation of findings from analysis of the given data regarding the methods and deficiency in meeting the objectives of the NCLB Act. The last chapter will give the conclusion and some remarks on the implication of the finding to the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act.
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