Example Of The No Child Left Behind Act Argumentative Essay
Type of paper: Argumentative Essay
Topic: Students, Education, Performance, Children, Skills, Poor, School, Poverty
The No Child Left Behind act was enacted by President Bush in 2002 to improve performance in public schools. However, more than a decade since its enactment, the levels of performance in public schools is not satisfactory. The policy has both beneficial and negative impact on the quality of education in the United States. The benefits of any law must supersede the negative impacts for such a law to be effective. The negative effects of the Act are almost as equal as its benefits. The NCLB Act encourages achieving good academic grades but fails to emphasize on acquiring the relevant knowledge that the students should acquire. While aiming at improving the performance of poor performing students, the NCLB Act slows down the progress of the highly gifted students.
NCLB Act ignores progress of individual children and favors emphasizing perceived proficiency scores and closing gaps for schools and groups of children using poor measures and standards of achievement (Gentry 12). Marcia Gentry went to the University of Connecticut and obtained a Ph. D in Educational Psychology in 1996. Currently, Gentry is a Professor of Educational Studies at the College of Education, Purdue University. Gentry has a wealth of experience in educational matters. Her article is very useful in evaluating the impact of the NCLB Act. It is apparent that the Act has very little to encourage schools as they are held answerable to a mass of unfunded requirements. Individual differences, individual potentials, creativity and innovation are some of the things in the public education system that have helped to make the country a great nation. The Act has led to states being forced to build high stakes tests to which teachers must teach. Additionally, it leads to the identification of groups of students who must show yearly progress. Failure to achieve this result to a school being categorized a failing school (Gentry 11).
In addition, the NCLB accountability through standardized testing is deeply defective and unfair. Its higher demands for teacher qualifications have worsened the nationwide teacher shortage, hence weakened the teaching force (Kamenetz 6). Kamenetz is a lead education blogger at NPR. She is also a staff writer for Fast Company magazine and a columnist for Tribune Media Services. Teachers also have been forced by the Act to adapt to very unfavorable teaching methods to remain competitive. Since the Act only rewards good academic performance, teachers teach the exam only. They are tempted to concentrate on the most likely questions and answering skills while forgoing learning. This trend is very dangerous for the country’s education system because it will produce academic robots, instead of all-rounded students. Teachers have no alternative but to register good academic performance. By giving more emphasis on English and mathematics, NCLB ignores many important subjects such as history, science and foreign languages.
The NCLB standardized tests have encountered numerous challenges. Some states set low standards and make the tests very easy to compensate for the poor student performance. This is very dangerous because it misleads the students about their performance hence limiting their curiosity to learn through challenges. The standardized tests also have cultural biases and presents an unfair testing for disabled and the students with limited English proficiency. Also, educational quality cannot be evaluated by just objective testing. It requires several factors that go beyond classroom work(Kamenetz 9).
NCLB fails to address the factors for poor performance. It faults schools and curriculum for student failure. It fails to address factors such as class size, hunger among students, homelessness, poor school infrastructure and lack of health care. NCLB discourages students from struggling for higher excellence by setting low standards. With trying to reach maximum proficiency, everything is slowed down so those that are behind can be at 'normal' thus leaving the more talented students unrewarded for their advancement. This serves to punish the students who are academically ahead of others. Teachers teaching to a test also destroy the motivation of the students to learn and prepare themselves for the future life and the realities of the world.
The Act has had many hindrances towards the brightest students who are forced to take the pace of their classmates. They are not encouraged and facilitated to reach full potential by limiting them to standard things only yet they could do advanced ones. The children are just being locked on everything hence making them lazy by attaining just enough instead of going above ordinary and beyond. Kahn and Anna present a unique view of the implication of this policy. Anna studied in Yale University and obtained his Ph.D. in 1993. He teaches at the University of Connecticut. He has interests and done research in philosophy the Africana Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies. Their study highlighted that tests are not universal as schools with physically challenged children cannot compete favorably with other schools. If a disabled child does not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress, it may not be the fault of neither the student nor the teacher but as a result of disability. Such a school’s performance goes down and in accordance with the Act; the school’s funding is cut (Kahn & Anna 9).
The No Child Left Behind Act is accomplishing grades rather than skills. It is possible for one to have good grades and good skills. However, this is not always the case. Some learners are very good in memory but fall short of skills. Memory and skills are related in academics but very different. Some learners just memorize the course work moments prior to the test and after the test, they forget almost everything they got right. Another category of students learn slowly but understand the concept. These students may not pass the test the first time they do it. They acquire knowledge slowly and accumulate it. They have the best skills in the real world job environment. As philosopher Socrates stated, Education is what remains after one is through with schooling. The NCLB Act fails to recognize this important concept. It only praises good grades achievers while failing to recognize retention (Abedi 10). Abedi is a Professor and a research partner at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. I find his research interests relevant to the issues affecting the quality of the American education.
The Act has witnessed various criticisms with most strategists arguing for the need of enacting immediate amendments. A group of scholars argue that the Act converts students into robot-like beings. The policy sets for the adoption of a system in which students are mainly trained to get good grades only. Students do not strive to solve new problems since grades are attained from reading and remembering the book contents. In this context, students are not presented to challenging learning experiences that would make them engage in critical reasoning. The Act fails to test the unique skills of individual students. The Act promotes laziness amongst the learners. The most gifted students are slowed down. It also fails to recognize students’ ability in co-curricular activities. The United States is both an intellectual and sports development country. There are many students gifted in sports but with average or poor academic performance. In the event that a school has many students gifted in sports than in academics, it will be likely to be closed as a result of poor performance. This will be a great injustice to the students and the country since their potential in sports will also be ignored by condemning their academic performance. The drafters of the NCLB Act failed to incorporate several aspects of the country’s diversity.
On the other hand, the NCLB act ensures strict accountability measures that ensure that no child is left behind in schools funded by the government. NCLB links government funding to strict improvement policies for America’s public schools (Smith 11). Smith has done research in educational policy. She was educated as an educationist. I found her work relevant to this assignment. The Act also provides equitable opportunities by ensuring that schools pay due regard to the progress of those groups of the school children who have done less well in school over the past. This applies particularly to individuals from low background with limited proficiency in English language. In addition, the student achievement based on the state-level data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has significantly improved under the Act. The Act impacted on the distribution of student achievement highly (Dee & Brian 14). Brian is a Professor of Economics and Education Policy at the University of Michigan. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. I found his research in educational matters useful in this assignment. Besides the noted sentiments, it is apparent that continuous improvement in performance has been witnessed over decades, long before the Act was enacted. Therefore, crediting the Act with continuous improvement in school’s performance is not justifiable. Furthermore, by improving the performance of the poor performing students, the Act is slowing down the advancements of the highly gifted students.
The country needs a system that recognizes and promotes skills of the students. A system that will help the poor performing students improve their academic achievement while encouraging the most gifted students achieve more. Drafters of NCLB Act missed several key factors that needed to be incorporated into the law. A law that has almost equal merits as demerits is not worth being in place. Moreover, reforming such a law will require effort that would be required to create another one. The Act should, therefore, be eliminated and a new one made.
Abedi, Jamal. "The No Child Left Behind Act and English Language Learners: Assessment and Accountability Issues." Educational Researcher. 33.1 (2004): 4-14.
Dee, Thomas S, and Brian A. Jacob. The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Student Achievement. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2009. Print.
Gentry, Marcia. "No Child Left Behind: Neglecting Excellence." Roeper Review. 29.1 (2006): 24-27.
Kahn, Sami, and Anna R. Lewis. "Survey on Teaching Science to K-12 Students with Disabilities: Teacher Preparedness and Attitudes." Journal of Science Teacher Education : the Official Journal of the Association for Science Teacher Education. 25.8 (2014): 885-910.
Kamenetz, Anya. The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing but You Don't Have to Be. , 2015. Print.
Ravitch, Diane, and John E. Chubb. "The Future of No Child Left Behind." Education Next. 9.3 (2009): 48-56.
Smith, Emma. "Raising Standards in American Schools: the Case of "no Child Left Behind"." Journal of Education Policy. 20.4 (2005): 507-524.