While the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act in the field of Education have been controversial, here are some of the main points and goals of NCLB.
What is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act?
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was created in 2001 and signed under President George W. Bush. In addition to being an incredible milestone in the field of Education, it served as a landmark in the hope for reform “designed to improve student achievement” (Education.com). Described as the cornerstone of administration, the No Child Left Behind Act was intended to positively advance and diversify the culture of American schools. From standardized test scores to cultural diversity in the classroom, students are the future, and in turn, cannot be left behind.
After the passage of NCLB, Congress authorized a nationwide law that would sweepingly shape education from the beginning kindergarten years all the way to senior year in high school. This new law (an amendment from the earlier Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was intended to be a grand overhaul of federal efforts to support learning and higher levels of comprehension in students. The four main pillars, or goals, of No Child Left Behind were “accountability for results, an emphasis on scientific study, greater parental involvement, and improved local influence” (Education.com).
Effects of NCLB on Parents and Students
One of the primary effects of NCLB is for students to receive greater support and scaffolding in their early education time. In doing so, learning difficulties and challenges would be averted, and overall skill levels in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies would be improved as these students reached the later grades. Research has demonstrated that the reading challenges encountered by today’s adolescents and middle grade students in particular are the result of problems (or lack of experience) through solid instruction in preschool, kindergarten, and their elementary schooling (Education.com). With proper teacher classroom management, these literacy levels have the chance to develop through intervention in the earlier years.
In addition to giving students greater learning opportunities and a focus on literacy strategies, parents too were intended to have a more important role in their children’s progress. NCLB encouraged schools to expand the communication and contact lines with the parents and guardians of students, so that they may be more influential and aware of their student’s learning in the classroom. Further research has shown that this closer communication enables a greater sync between teaching in school and support of that curriculum in the home environment as well.
Teachers and administrators, too, have been given more information regarding both their content areas and student histories to better teach each individual child in an accommodating, facilitated manner that supports differentiated instruction.
A final important positive change from NCLB has been more funding and academic resources from schools. Today, more than 7 thousand on average is provided per student by local, state, and nationwide taxpayers. In fact, “over 23.7 billion dollars” was spent in 2003 in federal funding alone to strengthen all school programs, which is almost a 60% increase from 2000. Furthermore, heightened focus is now given to all students with this greater funding, particularly students from minority backgrounds or in at-risk communities. This closer attention has been intended to increase student test scores and abilities for all children, not just those who excel—this includes students in ESL (English as a Second Language programs) and those with special needs.
Why NCLB is Important for America and Education
No Child Left Behind has been an important marker in American society and the field of Education because it has drawn a greater need for more focus on student learning and enhancing student comprehension today. While standardized scores are now being used as a primary indicator for achievement, the act has nonetheless influenced schools and educators alike to work hard to help reach their students and allow for diversity and goal-oriented learning to suit each child’s needs. There is no doubt that one of the greatest changes of NCLB was to increase social awareness that some students were indeed being forgotten in schooling, and that all students deserve equal education—taught, of course, in a differentiated instructional environment. Indeed, no child should be left behind. NCLB brought to light the fact that the “achievement gap in this country between the rich and the poor and white and minority students remains wide” (Education.com).
This achievement gap needs to close, and although NCLB may not have all the answers, it has at the very least brought the nation into the right direction. With the greater attention and needs of these at-risk and underrepresented students at last brought to the forefront of education, there is now hope for improvement and success for all. Already positive changes have been experienced across America, with scores of higher scores and student achievement for children with previous low performance. If schools are able to model these positive changes and work together—administration, teachers, and parents—with students, hopefully better learning and solid academic experiences can be enjoyed by all.