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No Child Left Behind Act 2001: An Educator's Nightmare
No Child Left Behind Act
The no child left behind act also known as NCLB requires individual states to test students on basic skills that are determined individually by each respective state in order to receive Federal Funding, however these rigorous standards clearly neglect the individual learning style of various students. Shortly after the Bush Administrations election, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 quickly passed even though there was limited political support for the law. The main thrust behind this law is the issuing of yearly tests for grades three through eight. Test results are measured against state specific standards.
Schools that do not meet these mandates issued by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 are forced to suffer the stringent regulations of the No Child Left Behind Policy. Many such consequences include being denied federal funding or tying faculty members salaries into the results of the data whether it is relevant or not to the entire teaching staff. Those schools that don't meet the Annual Yearly Progress goal required by NCLB for two years or more must offer free tutoring, the ability to allow a student to transfer to higher performing schools or even attend afterschool programs. The concept sounds fine on the tip of this messy iceberg but in this hub, I will show how the NCLB does not provide sufficient funding for these programs due to increased demands. Furthermore, this law does not even address the concerns of Special Education students who often are tested on material they might not understand or grasp. It totally disregards the disabilities of students with special needs and often punishes schools whose special education populations do not pass the test.
No Child Left Behind has good intentions but in many cases, it does not address the various needs of the individual student. Every child learns on a different scale due to cultural background, varied home lives, as well as economic reasons. For example, in the poorer neighborhoods children here might not have the resources to computers and the internet or the ability to get to one for living in an area that is unable to provide as opposed to those living in wealthier neighborhoods that are more influential. Despite this No Child Left Behind requires the same stringent curriculum be taught whether a child gets it or not. They require the same demanding state mandated tests whether a child is in fifth grade reading on a third grade level or of if a child is reading right on grade level. The total concept behind this trickery is not only absurd it is very unethical.
I worked in a second grade class where we had many lower skilled children. Some children were merely passed on to second grade due to social promotion and did not have the necessary first grade skills to move on. Regardless these same children were expected to perform and meet NCLB mandated standards with testing procedures that were done every couple of days. The curriculum we followed was on an intense pacing schedule and there were a significant number of children who did not even have the basic skills let alone the ability to understand the advanced skill sets that were mandated. The point is the law does not leave room for children who do not grasp the material it just pushes children to absorb all the information. If they get it fine if not then they sink is the understanding. What used to be a great fun loving profession has turned into a dreaded nightmare compliments of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
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No Child Left Behind Issues
Schools in urban poorer regions suffer the drastic consequences of No Child Left Behind when it comes to meeting the standards. What the government does not understand and merely refuses to grasp is the concept of punishing schools for low annual yearly progress goals does no one any good. In fact, it does the exact opposite. It turns educators who were once passionate about their subject into stressed out professionals who are not recognized for the hard work they put forth. Many educators stay hours behind after school trying to develop lesson plans with their grade team members utilizing the limited resources they have to reach their respective students. In spite of all this, it is a numbers game in the same way a corporation looks at an underperforming product.
School Districts who have diverse populations such as Alaska and Philadelphia are the hardest hit by the No Child Left Behind Act Policy. Children in these two respective regions come from all lifestyles from low income to middle income families to language barriers but are still required to have all children proficient by 2014. With this nearing deadline, many states Alaska included are considering applying for waivers in order to be exempt from certain provisions of the law otherwise suffer the consequences.
Furthermore, this No Child Left Behind Act does nothing but encourage stiff competition amongst schools and school districts. From one school to the other all are desperately in the race to make AYP. I can remember sitting at faculty meetings where the principal would treat making AYP a contest totally losing the concept of what this is all about the children. In Philadelphia, it is believed that many administrators are given bonuses for making AYP. Such beliefs have caused a scandal amongst educators here. To date 50 schools in Philadelphia alone were on the list for cheating on the state issued tests for NCLB. As of now, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has issued a requirement effective immediately as we approach the testing period for the state test PSSA. The requirement simply put bans the regular classroom teacher from giving tests to the students. Now principals must scramble to find alternative staff to issue the tests. In some schools staff is not even allowed to open the materials due to the scandal.
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No Child Left Behind Statistics
In spite of all the punitive actions of No Child Left Behind, reading and math test scores plateaued across the country. Though the law has good intentions, it still does not address the underlying issue in education today. There needs to be an accountability clause imposed in the law making parents responsible for their children's education. Currently there are free tutoring services offered to students whose schools have not met AYP for two years or more. Even though thousands of families qualify only a fraction of parents, take advantage of signing their children up for the services. In my school we had, children who were not performing well and were qualified for the free tutoring and yet chose not to send their children. What I did not get was how a parent could just knowingly turn down improving their child's future. We gave the children a nutritious snack as well as a full 90 minutes extra help in math and reading. Some children were eligible for both subjects depending on how they scored. With all these services available parents still chose not to send their children but were the same folks blaming the school at the end of the term for their child not passing. I feel, as I am sure that many educators do that an accountability clause needs to be in place to force parents to do what is the right thing to do.
As the 2014 deadline for proficiency approaches, many school districts are not meeting the requirements. One such school that had always tested 85% proficiency and has a stellar teaching staff to the say the least is Oyster River Middle School in Durham, New Hampshire. Twelve of the 110 middle schools special education students tested below proficiency in the state tests. Therefore, Oyster River Middle School had been labeled as a failing public school under No Child Behind Policy. Oyster River Middle Schools Principal Mr. Richard plans to pull special education students for one on one instruction. In previous terms, special education students were mainstreamed with the general population where they would have a regular classroom teacher and a special education teacher who would team teach and assist the students as well. If New Hampshire does apply for the waiver special education students would not carry as much weight on test results.
New York City has felt the crippling pinch of the No Child Left Behind Educational Policy as well. Due to increased state requirements in order to meet NCLB standards, 320 schools were added to the list of growing schools needing improvement in December. The list now stands at 640 public schools in NYC as failing. There were 54000 students participating in the free tutoring required by NCLB but with the increased number of eligible students the state has had to turn down service to 3500 eligible children. This is largely because NCLB is not properly funded in NYC by the federal government. As of February 17, 2012, only students whose families qualify for the free lunch program will be allowed to continue with free tutoring. Before this, the city had allowed both free and reduced lunch program families to participate in the program.
At Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens, New York City three out of four students qualifies for free or reduced lunch. Most families in this region make $40,000 or less. Before the New York State Department of Education's new, guidelines there were 200 students enrolled. With the budget cuts, 40 children became ineligible.
Overall, 178,351 students are currently in need of the program in the state of New York. Nevertheless, due to the massive numbers and lack of funds New York has opted to apply for a waiver of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. If approved for the waiver it would allow New York to decide whether to spend federal funding on tutoring services or other programs. At this point according to the Obama Administration, there are currently 10 states who have applied for the No Child Left Behind Act waivers. This number is surely to rise as the number of schools across the country not meeting these unfair regulations has grown immensely.
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