The No Child Left Behind Act Argumentative Essay Example
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I believe that The No Child Left Behind Act is an effective policy because it can be used to improve the welfare and rights protection of children; it can definitely lead to a more organized system of educating children who are at a disadvantaged situation; and lastly, it can present a more even playing field, at least in terms of education for children with disability and normal children who go to school.
The No Child Left Behind Act, or what is more famously known as the NCLB is one of the most recently ratified laws that is based on a much older policy which is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 or the ESEA . In essence, the No Child Left behind Act was signed into law in order to iterate the different provisions that school age children (elementary and secondary school age levels) that are at a disadvantaged position may expect from their education and from the educational institution that they are affiliated with.
The history of the ratification of this law can be traced back to the ratification of an earlier law about education, which is the ESEA in 1965 under one of the Johnson Administration’s efforts to curb the continuously rising levels of poverty in the country during that time .
The government administration during that time strongly believed that a strong, stable educational system that offers high-quality and affordable education services to the youth should be one of the anti-poverty pillars that the government should focus on. As a result of that belief the ESEA which enabled students coming from low income families receive student equities from the federal funds directed to the school districts they are planning to enroll in, was implemented. However, just like any other law, the congress set some limitations for the ESEA. One of the major limitations of this policy is that it would be required to be set for review and reauthorization by the concerned government bodies every few years or so .
So far, since it was first ratified in 1965, the ESEA has already been reviewed by the government and reauthorized for seven times, the latest of which was in 2002 when it was also renamed as the No Child Left behind Act. Essentially, the new iteration to the ESEA carries over the main provisions provided in previous ones. However, it is important to note that every approval of iteration includes some changes and additions may have been included. In the 1994 version of the policy, for example, the government raised initiatives to improve the standard and accountability elements for different schools and educational institutions that receive funding under the law in the country. And ten years after this particular iteration, the No Child Left behind Act was ratified, which was basically a reauthorization of those key standard and accountability elements from the previous ten year old iteration.
One of the most important features of this policy is that it enables a continuous improvement in the level and quality of education both for disadvantaged and normal children from different states in the country . This is via the original ESEA of 1965 provision called the Adequate Yearly Progress policy. Under this policy provision, educational institutions who receive funding from the program are expected to deliver results because the federal government is basically funding such institutions to deliver high quality education to both disadvantaged and normal students.
As a means of measuring the schools and educational institutions’ ability to use the funding that they receive from the federal government in meaningful ways, a state-wide Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) examination is conducted. Every year, students from all institutions receiving funding via this program are expected by the government to deliver improved or at least satisfactory results. There are three examples of conditions that may lead to the loss of the privilege to receive accreditation from the program (1) If a group of students with a slight hearing impairment fails to pass the examinations, then his scores will be recorded by the educational institution he is enrolled in and submitted to the government regulatory body for evaluation; (2) schools and educational institutions that missed the expected AYP ratings set by the government would be tagged by the government as in need of improvement and must in turn do better in the next AYP examinations if they want to continue receiving funding via the program; (3) if the school or educational institution still misses to meet the federal government’s expectations, they may be forced to undergo a restructuring program, that is if they still want to be an accredited organization under the program.
Another important feature of this policy is the fact that it gives the federal government a systematic mechanism to ensure that the funds that will be used to fuel the program will be used properly by the schools and educational institutions that will be spending them . For one, these provisions give the federal government the power to take control of the school or educational institution (i.e. to restructure it or in less severe cases, encourage it to make changes in its current educational and teaching system) after determining a certain level of inability to deliver good results via the AYP examinations held every year. Secondly, another example of a reason why this feature is important is it serves as a form of assurance for the disadvantaged students and their parents that the welfare of their child in school would be as safe as that of the other non-disadvantaged children; that their kids are being treated just like how normal school age children are being treated when it comes to being educated. And thirdly, this provision leads to continuous improvements in the level and quality of education being offered by schools and educational institutions. Knowing that they face the possibility of a restructuring program as mandated by the federal government if ever they will be proven unworthy of the funds given to them to equally educate all children, these educational institutions would surely do everything in their power to deliver good results.
The system that this policy creates, however, according to its critics, produce unrealistic goals . Stephens even said that “No Child Left Behind is a fairly catchy slogan, if an unrealistic goal’ there’s a fallacy in the law and everybody knows it”. Firstly, there are too many variables that can affect the test scores of a disadvantaged child which federal officials basically expect (at least based on the provisions of the law) to as high or even a higher score compared to their non-disadvantaged counterparts. Secondly, the law does not take into consideration the fact that every few years or so, the roster of students from a particular educational institution gets totally replaced because of graduation. Once these fresh new batches of students go in, what they are going to encounter would be an educational expectation bar that is set too high, which is thanks to the supposedly continuously improving scores on the tests that the federal government requires the educational institutions to make their students accomplish. And thirdly, the act of comparing the test scores that a group of students got in one school to that of another school would be practically baseless because there are simply a lot of factors that may explain why the other group of students got a lower overall score and vice versa for the other group.
We have identified three main stakeholders of the No Child Left behind Act: the students, the schools and educational institutions, and lastly, the government. The students are the federal government’s target population when the policy makers conceptualized the ESEA or what is now known as the NCLB. There are evidences that can prove the fact that it indeed led to significant improvements in the literacy rates of even the disadvantaged children. At some point, it can even be said that their literacy and educational proficiency levels can be considered to be at par with their non-disadvantaged counterparts, thanks in part to the NCLB.
The educational institutions are the effector organizations that the federal government has mandated to act based on the provisions of the NCLB. However, the problem is that most people working in schools and educational institutions as educators think that the NCLB accountability provisions are starting to become an impossible feat for them to accomplish because some of the details written there by policy makers are plain unattainable.
For the record though, they believe that the country’s literacy rate, even including the population of disadvantaged student-age children in the counting, has benefited greatly as a result of the program but if their grants and financial support from the federal government would be cut as a result of unrealistic expectation setting by the federal government, then it would certainly appear that among the three stakeholders that we have mentioned, the school and educational institutions are the ones who are compromised.
Conclusions and Recommendations
For the author of this paper, there is no question whether the No Child Left behind Act was an effective pro-education and anti-poverty policy or not because it really is effective for the first two reasons and sets of examples provided above. It can be said, however, that there are numerous things that the current government assembly must review and take into consideration so that the next reauthorization of the law would be free from a lot of criticisms. If there is one thing that we would like to recommend to the policy makers who will draft the next iteration of this law, it would be to make the requirements more realistic and sustainable.
Performance should not be expected to follow a straight diagonal and upward line because as mentioned earlier, the roster of students in a particular school changes every few years or so because at least one batch of students graduate and become freshmen every school year. Certainly, if the provisions of the No Child Left behind Act are to be strictly followed, particularly the ones that pertain to the accountability of educational institutions to the quality of education that they will deliver, it would be extremely hard, if not impossible for the future batches of both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged people pass the tests and examinations as mandated by the federal government.
Isabel, O. "States Need to Fill in the Gaps on Expanded Learning Time: Troubling Lack of Detail Seen in No Child Left Behind Waiver Applications ." Center for American Progress (2012).
New America Foundation. "No Child Left Behind Overview." Federal Education Budget Project (2014).
Partee, G. "Using Multiple Evaluation Measures to Improve Teacher Effectiveness: State Strategies from Round 2 of No Child Left Behind Act Waivers." Center for American progress (2012).
Randolph, K. and D. Wilson. "Is No Child Left Behind Effective for All Students? Parents Don't Think So." ERIC Database (2012).
Stephens, C. "Times Watchdog Report: No Child Left Behind on the way out, but not anytime soon." AL (2010).
U.S. Department of Education. "Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)." U.S. Department of Education (2014).
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