Background and Scope of No Child Left Behind Policy
The No Child Left Behind Act is an Education Policy that was formerly put into action as law on January, 8th of 2002 when President George Bush Jnr. signed it as a reauthorization of the ESEA Act (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) of 1965. It is the greatest recent federal law that gives authorization to federal spending to educational plans that support K-12 schooling. The No Child Left Behind Policy directly sprouts from ESEA; which was the greatest source from where federal spending for elementary and secondary education was derived. It would therefore be quite difficult to assess the origin of No Child Left Behind Policy without looking at the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The No Child Left Behind policy basically came into fruition from the dire need to close the achievement gap and do this with an added touch of accountability, flexibility and…. It was based on the understanding that if high standards are set and measurable goals established, it would be possible to improve educational outcomes of every individual.
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However, the immediate origins of the policy (which is commonly known as NCLB) trace their history form continued public concern about the state of education in the United States. There was need for enactment of a legislation that would ensure that requirements are set in place that have effect in virtually every public school in the United States of America. Since this law that became a formal policy in 2002 sprouted from the 1965 ESEA, it is w2orth remembering that ESEA was mandated to safeguard pre-collegiate education in the US. Moreover, No Child Left Behind was instrumental in expanding the role of the Federal Government and played a further extended role of ensuring that the Federal Government takes care of the education of disadvantaged students in the society.
in terms of scope and coverage, the policy did not only form a renewal of the previous ESEA policy but in fact made sure that individual states to settle on their own annual targets, as long as they attained 100% proficiency by the year 2012-13. However, a number of states basically declined to heave their targets any more or asked waivers from the rules. In the summer of 2011, Mr. Duncan pledged to establish a waiver alternative for all States, although it would have strings attached expecting those states to espouse a number of of the administration’s education precedence (McNeil, 2011). In Congress, in the meantime, members from both parties saw found it reasonable to rewrite the law, although acquiescing on the form of a new edition of that law was not fast coming (Klein, 2011).
With respect to the scope of the policy, it is effective in all the states of the US. However, its flexibility is evident in the fact that even though it spells mandates for every district to ensure annual reports, every state is allowed to set its educational standards without forgetting that there are nation-wide progress evaluations and reports. Among the most important stakeholders in the policy is the Federal State, whose mandate and role in public education is expanded under the policy to encompass annual testing, yearly academic progress, annual report cards teacher qualifications and changes in funding of public education.
Policy Impact of the No Child Left Behind Education Policy
Since its enactment in early 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act has had backers, with various education leaders conveying their support for the law’s rigorous accountability directives, characterizing them as fundamental levers of change, comprehensiveness, and lucidity of results. The laws’ definitive effectiveness, various observers have pointed out, may possibly depend on how intimately states and schools abide by its codes of “tough accountability” (West & Peterson, 2003).
The No Child Left Behind Act had a number of measures that acted as its pillar and which were designed to impel far-reaching gains in student achievement and to ensure that states and schools are held more accountable for the progress of the student. They characterized momentous transformations to the education landscape (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). In terms of policy implications of the act, besides the general transformations that put the burden of accountability to the states and individual schools, there were several policy implications of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Annual Testing Requirement
Annual Testing was one of the policy implications of the policy where the policy required that by the school year 2005/06 all states should commence conducting annual testing for students in grades 3 to 8 in mathematics and reading. Besides that target, the policy also made it mandatory that by the 2007/08 school year, schools were to begin testing students in science at least once at each stage of elementary, middle and high school levels of education. In addition, the tests had to be aligned along the academic standards set by the respective states. While the targets above mainly focused on testing students at state level standards, the policy also required that a sample of 4th graders and 8th graders from every state had to take part in the National Assessment of Education with the sole purpose of gauging progress of the participating students hence the schools. The focus of the National Assessment of Educational Progress is testing students in mathematics and reading and it endeavors to offer a point of comparison for state test results from year to year.
Apart from annual testing, another area that the No Child Left Behind policy brought was academic progress in which each state was required to bring all students up to the “proficient” level on state-based tests by the school year 2013/14. Through this requirement, every school had an obligation of making sure it meets targets spelled under adequate yearly progress as set by the individual state. The goal of meeting the targets are based on a procedure clearly elucidated in the law and are to focus, not just on the individual student but on the entire population as well as focus on specific demographic subgroups. In order to show a stringent stance on this requirement the policy also set it such that if a school entitled to Federal Title I funding did not succeed in meeting the target two years successively, it would be given technical assistance and students in such school would be provided with an alternative of other public schools to attend. On the other hand, students attending schools that do not make satisfactory progress in three consecutive years are also supposed to be offered auxiliary educational services that include private tutoring. Policy implication of a school that continually fails is that such schools would be subject to external corrective measures. These external corrective measures include steps such as probable changes in governance of the school.
Annual Report Cards
After the signing of the No Child Left Behind Policy into law in January 2002 by the Bush administration, and beginning with the immediate school year 2002/03, states were put under the obligation of furnishing annual reports cards that indicated a range of information comprising data relating to student achievement. The policy required that the data be broken down according to subgroup and information on how school districts performed. This requirement also applied to districts where each district was required to provide similar report cards indicating school-by-school data.
Policy Requirements on Teacher Qualifications
The policy implications of the Act also touched on the qualifications of teachers that taught in core areas in public schools in whole of the United States. According to this policy requirement, every teacher working in a public school in the US and involved in core content areas had to be decidedly qualified in every subject the teacher taught. This requirement basically implies that the teacher must be certified and discernibly proficient in that particular subject matter. While the term used in the policy is “highly qualified”, the effect of this policy implication was effective beginning with the school year 2002/03 and it meant that all teachers that were newly hired with Federal Title I money had to meet that requirement. Additionally, by the conclusion of the 2005/06 school year, every school professional taken into service under Federal Title I money is obliged to have completed a minimum of two years of college, garnered an associate’s degree or above, or successfully completed an assessment to exhibit knowledge and ability of the teacher to teach.
The No Child Left Behind Act created a fresh competitive-grant plan referred to as Reading First. In 2004, this plan was funded at $1.02 billion. ………. The program was mainly aimed at making sure that states and districts put in place scientific, research-based reading plans that targeted children in grades K-3 (with specific focus given to areas with high poverty levels). Initially, there was a smaller early-reading plan that sought to help states to prepare better 3 to 5-year-olds in underprivileged areas to read. This funding was soon after discontinued drastically by Congress in the midst of budget talks.
Changes in Funding
There was a modification in the Title I Financial Support formula brought about by the No Child Left Behind education policy, which was expected to give better target of resources in school districts that have high concentrations of underprivileged children in the United States. The law also incorporated provisions that set to provide states and districts increased flexibility in the manner in which they spent a fraction of their federal allocations.
Besides the above policy implications of the NCLB Act, the policy scope and detail that became source of substantial controversy and debate in the education area. While the impacts of the law began to be felt, a section of educators and policymakers questioned the viability and fairness of its ambitions and time frames.
For instance, based on an opinion poll made available in late 2003, it was found that nearly fifty per cent of school principals and superintendents perceive the federal legislation to be a politically motivated undertaking or aimed at destabilizing public schools (Public Agenda, 2003). In the same light, a study Policy Analysis for California hinted that, because of its prerequisite to appraise school progress based on demographic subgroups, the law might unreasonably penalize schools with diverse populations of students (Policy Analysis for California Education, 2003). This assessment indicates the kind of reaction the policy got from the one of main stakeholders. One area that created much worries among the main stakeholders was the area that deals with adequate yearly progress, more so the goal of attaining 100% literacy by the school year 2013/14.
The No Child Left Behind Policy touched on several policy issues that have briefly been mentioned in the initial paragraphs of this analysis. The first of these issues revolves around accountability. It is recognized that NCLB covers several federal educational programs, of which testing of progress and accountability rank among the main areas that receive most attention alongside school improvement. On the basis of accountability, the policy requires that all states test students in areas of reading and mathematics on an annual basis in grade 3 to grade 8. Still on the issue of accountability, the policy requires every state to test students once in grade 10 to grade 12. In addition, states must also subject students to testing in areas of science and this must be done once in grade 3 to grade 5, grade 6 to grade 8 and grade 10 to grade 12. Additionally, individual schools alongside school districts and states are obliged to give reports to the public pertaining test results in the aggregate as well as the individual student subgroups. This should include students that are included in the low-income set, students recognized with disabilities, English language learners, as well as key racial and ethnic groups.
With respect to policy assessment, NCLB had an annual testing requirement in which the policy required that by the school year 2005/06 all states should start conducting annual testing for students in grades 3 to 8 in mathematics and reading. Besides that target, the policy also made it mandatory that by the 2007/08 school year, schools were to begin testing students in science at least once at each stage of elementary, middle and high school levels of education.
There was still another area that related to academic progress where each state was required to bring all students up to the “proficient” level on state-based tests by the school year 2013/14. Through this requirement, every school had an obligation of making sure it meets targets spelled under adequate yearly progress as set by the individual state. The goal of meeting the targets are based on a procedure clearly elucidated in the law and are to focus, not just on the individual student but on the entire population as well as focus on specific demographic subgroups. In order to show a stringent stance on this requirement the policy also set it such that if a school entitled to Federal Title I funding did not succeed in meeting the target two years successively, it would be given technical assistance and students in such school would be provided with an alternative of other public schools to attend.
The policy also made it mandatory that states had the obligation of furnishing annual reports cards that indicated a range of information comprising data relating to student achievement. The policy required that the data be broken down according to subgroup and information on how school districts performed. Besides al that, teacher qualification was also an area that NCLB touched where implications of the Act also touched on the qualifications of teachers that taught in core areas in public schools in whole of the United States and mandated that every teacher working in a public school in the US and involved in core content areas had to be decidedly qualified in every subject the teacher taught. Other areas that the policy touched on include reading first where the program was mainly aimed at making sure that states and districts put in place scientific, research-based reading plans that targeted children in grades K-3. Changes in funding were also witnessed where modifications in the Title I Financial Support formula brought about by the No Child Left Behind education policy ensured that underprivileged children would specifically get a chance in the education system.
Education Trust (2003), “Don’t Turn Back the Clock,” Letter to Congress, November 2003
Klein, A. (2011) “Duncan, Key Senators Sing off Same Page on ESEA Renewal” Education Week, Jan. 26, 2011
Mathis, William J., (2003) “No Child Left Behind: Costs and Benefits,” Phi Delta Kappan, May 2003.
McNeil, M. (2011) “More States Asking for NCLB Waivers” Education Week, Aug. 9, 2011.
Public Agenda, (2003) “Rolling Up Their Sleeves: Superintendents and Principals Talk About What’s Needed to Fix Public Schools,” 2003.
U.S. Department of Education, (2003) “Fact Sheet: Two Years of Accomplishment with No Child Left Behind,” January 2003.
West, Martin R., & Peterson, Paul E., (2003) “The Politics and Practice of Accountability,” from No Child Left Behind? The Politics and Practice of Accountability, West and Peterson, Eds., Brookings Institution Press, 2003.
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