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Problems in the No Child Left Behind Act
The No Child Left Behind Act, prevalently identified as NCLB of 2001, was initiated in the US as an Act of Congress that came about after an extensive public apprehension in relation to the status of education. George W. Bush's administration instantaneously after taking office, proposed this bill and the US Congress approved it overwhelmingly. This bill was initiated as the government's lead-role aid procedure for destitute learners. NCLB Act, compelled states to develop evaluations in fundamental proficiency on all students at different selected grade levels, to receive federal funds for schools. Upon its ratification, the NCLB Act, stretched the federal responsibility in education and took a fastidious focus at advancing the educational faction of deprived scholars. Many believed that schools' and states' accountability was to be enhanced through dimensions of students' progress. Accordingly, the Act did not emphasize on nation-wide standard achievements, but required individual states to set their own principles of feat (Henry, 2004).
All states were obligated to uplift all students' performance to the "proficient" echelons by 2013 to 2014 academic year, in the sense that schools meet the mandatory yearly improvements on several tests provided by individual states. Schools receiving Title I federal funds were compelled to meet the set targets and if any failed especially in a two-year row; technical support would be provided and students given choices to transfer to other public schools. It was also agreed that students that would not perform adequately in their respective schools three years successively, were to be given supplementary educational assistance, especially personal coaching. And in the event of continual failures, external remedial actions would be applied including changes in governance. Conversely, from 2002, the NCLB Act necessitated states to provide yearly detailed cards presenting diverse information, concerning individual student- progress, subgroups and school districts (Wilson, 2011).
Teachers' qualifications by 2005 were required to be "highly qualified," subjecting teachers to have achieved at least an associate degree or superior,r and must have passed an evaluation to display acquaintance and teaching talents. The act also created a spirited grant program known as "Reading First," that was to help states and districts formulate technological-based researches for K-3 grade children, especially minors below 5 years, in areas regarded as high-poverty regions targeting the disadvantaged. Indeed, the NCLB Act funds were expected to alleviate educational disparities among the poor. The law also incorporated requirements proposed to give states and their districts better elasticity in how they expend their shares of federal funds. Following these detailed issues regarding the NCLB Act; policymakers, educators and other stakeholders queried the viability and equality of its intended objectives and the given time-frame. In the late 2003, opinion polls released revealed fifty percent of superintendents and school heads, viewed the legislation as either politically aggravated and intended to demoralize public schools. Uneasiness regarding the law matured, mainly pertaining to its regulations of the "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) and the ambition of "100% proficiency" by academic year 2013-14. Habitually, high-performing schools failed to meet their set-rates of perfections; states experienced progressive high-rates of disappointments to beat the ever-rising yardsticks. And this progress has been on the descending trends since then (Shirvani, 2009).
Since NCLB Act has a strict criterion on hiring of teachers who have high qualifications set by states, there exist certain dissimilar levels. Wilson (2011), assert that in numerous states, teachers turn into "highly qualified" since they attend several short-time workshops that enhance their abilities, nevertheless; other states have essential nonflexible criteria for efficient trainers. Researchers have argued that the NCLB Act may fundamentally diminish the eminence of teachers, for low-performing students. The cogent for lessening teacher-quality could be when schools are branded as failures or require perfection, the highly-qualified teachers may relocate to other schools, and presumably their replacements would be less qualified as set by individual states, which their standards could be much lower.
Furthermore, it is the NCLB Act that has generated these unbalanced allotments of highly-qualified teachers of advanced-performing and low-performing schools. Regrettably, further reports have revealed that lower-performing teachers are migrating to the rural schools because the majority of these schools have been branded as "failures" consequently, losing their hardworking teachers to high-performing institutions eying job securities that these schools offer.
Another factual report states that students in low socio-economic regions like Missouri are taught by teachers who are not specialized in their field of teaching. Accordingly, the NCLB Act has not been able to generate adequate requirement of teachers for the minorities. Even though, Hispanic teachers were more effective in helping the bilingual students, they are not adequately represented. And white teachers have been unfair to some students since they anticipate higher results from talented English speaking learners than from those with low English proficiency. In consequence, the Act is believed to be perpetuating the "White common sense" attitude towards other races enhancing white students' academic performance than the Hispanics (Wilson, 2011).
Low financial support for NCLB Act program has been anticipated to be the major causative aspect to its problems and palpable failures. The program provides ten percent of the schools' apportioned finances, and this is not ample to satisfy the requirements of various schools. NCLB also does not necessitate states to grant schools with additional funds required to reduce the achievement gap. Some schools would want to set their standards higher, but due to the limited resources, they may not be able to do. The fear of not meeting the NCLB goals has also made different states to lower their standards to schools hence, being under funded while avoiding the classification of the Act's, "need improvement" (Fritzberg, 2004).
Academicians have constantly criticized the NCLB Act, citing its ineffectiveness for the initial intended purpose of closing the alleged gap between the high and low-achieving students. It is believed that the Act has lowered students' standards in diverse ways. Many teachers have argued that whatever is taught in a classroom must be the main focal point of determining the test contents. In actual sense, the Act has drastically invalidated the main intent of formal education since; it only induces teachers to dwell on the contents of the state tests. This has only increased students' scores instead of gaining substantial knowledge. Other states have lowered their standards to avoid massive students' failure while others have maintained high standards hence, lack of uniformity, and this may not be avoided because the Act provides each state the right to set its own standards (Phi & Neill, 2003).
As stated initially, that NCLB Act's main purpose was to narrow the gap between higher- performing and lower-performing students, researchers have raised the red flag that the deadline of 2014 might not be realized. The main argument presented on these issues states that, NCLB is not scientifically-based but ideologically driven. In these regards, it is presumed that performance gap will never be closed. Most educators have also agreed that there are several variables in lives of students, which require imperative undertakings. A given example involves over a decade of African-American students progress. However, at the same time White students have also tremendously improved, and the gap remains. There are also alleged artificial "high scores" that are believed to be fabricated by states to cushion their territorial schools from being documented as non-performers. Rowley and Wright (2011) argue that, Government guidelines intended in decreasing the dissimilarities in test scores among Blacks and Whites have done extremely little.
The US is believed to have the most decentralized learning system in the world, which permits for prejudice to take place based on race and socioeconomic status. Additionally, there is a propensity for Blacks to have high-poverty rates compared to Whites though; the authentic figure of Whites in paucity is big. Whereas the projected rationale of the NCLB is to transform the public education equal for all students in each school, low-income earners and Black students are still being left behind. Students with disabilities are worst hit and high school drop-outs are increasing, because of the NCLB pressure (Tavakolian & Howell, 2012).
Accordingly, the NCLB at its initial stages managed to impress educational reformers, but due to some overlooked principles, the support is diminishing gradually. Indeed, additional funding should be given to schools that offer unrelenting services to low-income and the disadvantaged students sequentially, to prevail over their educational shortfalls. To reduce the declared educational gap, schools that have low-performing students, should not be victimized or penalized but be given better starting points that could uplift their performance to match the rest of other states. Contentious issues surrounding the NCLB Act, need to be synthesized to bring it back on track for the full accomplishments of its purpose, even if the anticipated deadline shall have been missed.