The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act focuses on standardized testing in all American schools. It is the Bush administration's sweeping educational reform, aimed at improving the performance of the nation's public schools by introducing accountability. Supporters of the act claim that it will increase the performance of all school children by raising the standards and allowing parents greater freedom in choosing the school they want their child to attend. The act also puts in place a system of punishment for schools if their student body does not perform to the standards set down by the National government (NCLB act). As well as increasing standards, this act also encourages teachers to use a curriculum that the government developed with "scientifically based research" (a phrase that appears 111 times in the act) (Hammond 4). While standardized curriculum and increased standards seem like they would improve children's learning, in reality it hurts them by pushing them too hard academically instead of focusing on social development, and denying them specialized attention based upon their individual abilities. The debate surrounding this has become a significant topic since the Act is currently under review and could be in the process of reauthorization. At the time of its inception, both political parties (Republicans and Democrats) supported the NCLB Act, however, both parties are now arguing over its validity. In 2005, there have been slight \adjustments to the regulations first set in 2005 by the Department of Education, but the revisions were not enough to gain full support from both parties. This act has failed to garner support from most Americans, and like most Americans, I also agree that this should not be reinstituted. No Child Left Behind was designed by the Bush administration to reduce the "learning gap" between different groups of students and to ensure better teacher equality. However, it sets fourth a method of measuring "Adequate Yearly Progress" which aims at 100% proficiency in 10 years time (from the start of the program) (Wood 4). These impossibly high standards cause greater harm than good. One adverse effect of these high standards is that they substantially weaken the safety nets for under-performing students in the nation's schools. As schools struggle to meet the act's impossibly high goals, many incentives to keep underperforming students out, or to hold those already in the school back present themselves. The federal government has consistently failed to provide the proper amount of funding that this program requires. Additionally, a student’s achievement is measured only by their performance on multiple-choice reading and math tests! As a future educator, it is easy for me to feel very angry towards these ideas. Students are looked at merely as a test score rather than human beings with personality, talents, and thoughts that cannot be measured by a multiple-choice mathematics problem. An increasing number of teachers across this country nowadays are planning their curriculum “to the test” in fear that the test scores of students will be low and result in the termination of their career. As a result, many students fail to receive a creative and well-rounded
education. To keep going in direction of the “one-size-fits-all” idea that the No Child Left Behind act promotes means raising kids to think that all that is necessary in school is to merely memorize information rather than fully comprehend the material. For too long, we have committed to time structures, coursework, instructional methods, and assessments designed more than a century ago. Our current definition of student success is too narrow; it is time to put students first, align resources to students’ multiple needs, and advocate for a more balanced approach. I propose to help promote a whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement. Measuring academic achievement is important and necessary; no one is arguing otherwise. But if we fail to move beyond a narrow curriculum and a rigid accountability system, we will have failed to adequately prepare children for their futures. Using the ideas from ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)—in partnership with state and local leaders to help schools, districts, and communities across the country will move this country toward a vision of educating the whole child to action. States and school districts are adopting policies and practices to better educate the whole child, but we need to do more. Without a doubt this topic is huge. It is not going to be solved in one day, but there are things that can be done to slowly but surely improve and resolve the conflicts. It cannot be stressed enough how important teaching the ‘whole-child’ really is. Educating all teachers and future teachers of ways to design lessons that not only educate students on test material, but for life skills as well. The creative curriculum is truly a win-win situation. Teachers will be able to collaborate ideas and create an entire network that
focuses on the ideas and creates solutions.
There are many formal websites, articles and scholarly essays written about this topic posted and printed all over the country online and in newspapers. The approach I would like to take with these ideas and thoughts would be directly to current teachers and future educators. Taking the thoughts and ideas to multiple education blogs will make a huge impact. It does not matter whether or not the educator agrees with the No Child Left Behind Act. Both sides are equally educated in the subject and they will be the most apt to make a change in the educational system. The tone and writing style in this essay is an example of the tone needed to be written in the website the ideas will be written in. It is to the point, informative and structured. This tone is a tone that can be taken seriously, which will allow for a greater impact. There is power in numbers; I say this because I feel that these actions will create a domino effect. The more teachers that participate in successfully creating a unique curriculum that increases test scores as well as teaching the “whole child” as mentioned earlier in this writing, the more teachers would want to participate. Schools will begin to notice and take action and will implement the ideas of teaching beyond a test score.
(2006, 11). The Harmful Effects of No Child Left Behind. collegeformeandroscoggin.org. Retrieved 11, 2006, from http://collegeformeandroscoggin.org/essays/The-Harmful-Effects-Of-No-Child-99901.htm