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This paper outlines two major approaches to educational reform that is essentially changing education and the way educators view it today. With these reforms, policy holders, legislators, state and local school districts, want the educational systems to implement programs to improve education as a whole. In the hopes of raising the level at which students perform academically. As will be explored, reform is vital to the success of students and for the overall aspect of teaching. Change is inevitable but how the education system adapts will have a huge impact on the students at large. National Standard Movement
The national standard movement in education has grown in the past few years. It has marked an era in education where states are coming together and incorporating a set of national standards, to increase student's competency in reading and math, with for going plans to include other subjects. The national standard movement was started based on the need for public school students to achieve academically. The much needed restructuring of our education system has gained the attention of Presidents, law makers, city officials, and school board members to implement change. The education system has challenged these figures in revamping public schools to know that it will not only take these set of national standards to institute change but for someone to be held accountable for the outcome. As the author takes a closer look at the national standard movement and its state of reform, it will encompass the Educate America Act and the No Child Left behind Act of 2001.
Goals 2000: Educate America Act
Goals 2000: "Educate America Act was signed into law on March 31,1994" (Goals 2000, 2007). The expectations for this act were to reform the America schools and the expectations of the students who attend to achieve academic success. The act was intended "to provide financial support to states over a five-year period to support state-level improvement initiatives and award sub grants to regional school districts to develop and implement education enhancement plans that concentrates on improving achievement for all students" (Goals 2000, 2007). The act is divided into two parts: Title 1, which refers to a set of National Educational goals and the remaining portion of the Act focuses on how those goals will be achieved academically and socially. Overall, the Goal 2000: Educate America Act also mandates that students have the support from the education system at large.
As the author looks closely at the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, one realizes that there is no correct or wrong approach used in reforming education. In retrospect the Act, endorses "a wide array of state and local approaches to raise academic accomplishments" (Goals 2000, 1996). Since each state is ran differently educational wise, every state is utilizing this Act to encourage its own unique approach to enhancing education. The approach that each state incorporates for change depends deeply on the desired outcome of the school system. All students' needs may not fall in the same category however the educational system as a whole is in need of a major transformation. Students are not learning as they should, they are falling behind academically, test scores are declining and students are not engaged at all. This social problem is very important because when students feel as if they are unable to achieve academically, this increases the dropout and teenage pregnancy rate because those students are more likely to completely give up on school and get involved in the outside world; also increases crime rates because students have more freedom and opportunities to get into the wrong things.
Traditional values go along with this act because a student has to be self-sufficient and understand that no one can help them through school if they aren't willing to strive and help themselves. Self-determination is also important when thinking about this act because the student has to be motivated and committed to achieving academically. The intent of this act was to improve the process of learning; teaching and ensuring that students are able to afford the opportunity to excel. The act was created in essence to encourage higher levels of educational achievements. In doing this act, many felt it would shape and mold local and state schools. The lasting impact that this act would have on education as a whole would be to see and know that students are achieving above the norms. States all over are seeing increasing numbers in the way students' academics has risen. Clearly there is still more progress to be made however, each step moving forward is a step closer to preparing students for the future. The act symbolizes an even more important fact that focuses on helping every child achieving elevated standards. (Goals 2000: Reforming, 1998)
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 soon came into law. It amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, that set out to improve education overall. "On March 13th 2010, in conjunction with the current act, President Obama's administration announced a plan to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act" (Elementary & Secondary Education, 2011). The revision of the act challenged the country to welcome educational standards that would put America on a path to global leadership. (Elementary & Secondary Education, 2011) By embracing the revisions set forth in this act, it would allow individual states the opportunity to implement academic standards; therefore preparing students to succeed in both higher learning schools and in the workforce, while approving accountability programs geared towards ensuring that students are meeting the goals of excelling academically. (Elementary & Secondary Education, 2011)
The intended purpose of this act is to improve education by any means necessary to reform the way education is viewed, enhance the students' learning and how teachers can best develop and institute change. "This act requires that each state implement a set of standards in math and reading and tests that are linked to grades 3 through 8" (Baker, Betebenner and Linn, 2002). The No Child Left Behind Act was initially designed to assist disadvantage students who were at a higher risk for excelling academically. Consequently, any program or changes that deal with education usually draws concern and questions.
The impact that this and other acts will have on education depends upon a great deal on how it is implemented, how progress is tracked, who benefits the most and how well students excel. According to Yell, 2011, here are the major goals that the No Child Left Behind Act seeks to achieve:
All students will achieve high academic standards by attaining proficiency or better in reading and mathematics by the 2013-2014 school year.
Highly qualified teachers will teach all students
All students will be educated in schools and classrooms that are safe, drug free, and conducive to learning.
All limited English proficient students will become proficient in English.
All students will graduate from high school
U.S. National Standards Movement
Here the author feels that implementing a single set of national education standards for grades for K-12 would benefit students a great deal. It would afford students and educators and the opportunity would focus on mastering one set of goals. Having one set of national education standards would reduce the ordinary way of thinking about academic success to raising the bar to excellence. In addition, too many expectations may result in teachers and staff members giving their best. Again, having an equal set of national education standards will keep all states under one umbrella when it comes to academic achievement, giving no room for some states to adhere to one set and another state to another, thus jeopardizing the success of students. "National education standards would give all our schools common targets and clarify what we expect teachers to be teaching and what we will hold schools and districts accountable for" (Casserly, Crew, and Vallas, 2007). Having nationwide educational standards would also give us a customary meaning of what academic expertise looks like and what it doesn't, instead of having 50 different meanings. (Casserly, Crew and Vallas, 2007)
Ultimately, it is mindset of the educators to enforce and implement changes within the classroom. Even though politicians and lawmakers voice their concerns and opinions, it is inadvertently left up to the teachers as to how and what students learn. Having in place a set of standards to guide teachers will only enhance a favorable outcome for students. It goes without saying just much time and energy is given to meeting the educational needs of students today and by far it is needed. Setting realistic and obtainable goals is just the first part of securing a bright future for our students. As educators seek to discover just how best to continue on the road to success academically, it will be beneficial to exhaust every avenue afford to educational system.