No Child Left Behind?????

Nancy - Butte, Montana
Entered on March 30, 2009

No Child Left Behind?????

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 demands that all children must benefit—black or white, immigrant or native-born, rich or poor, disabled or not. It requires that all 50 states must monitor the achievement of every group of students in their schools. These requirements are for all public schools from first grade through high school. This may sound like a good idea, but to implement an educational program that meets the needs of all children is unrealistic. No Child Left Behind has been both costly and ineffective, and it was under funded at the state level to start with.

The positive results of No Child Left Behind are small and negligible compared to the negatives Classroom time is used for teaching to test, rather than teaching to facilitate learning. Excessive testing of almost all grade levels is done. Testing takes time away from classroom teaching and is spread across a couple of days. When you are doing these kinds of things, all you are learning to do is how to take tests. To include children in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) poses a challenge in itself. Averaging all test scores together and then coming up with a percentage is an unfair disadvantage. For every child that fails the MontCAS test, just figure out how many more students have to excel on the test to bring a failed percentage up to the expected average. It is unfair to the children and the teacher, since poor performance reflects back at them and federal funds are denied.

For lack of funding, there has been an elimination of art, foreign language study, even sports in many schools. Programs like these are important in a child’s development. Imagination and creativity are like muscles—if you don’t use them, you lose them. The government needs to provide adequate funding right from the start if they expect programs like NCLB to succeed.

There is a great emphasis placed on reading in the NCLB Act. In their efforts to meet NCLB standards, there are teachers that spend a good deal of time working with students that are having difficulty, especially in reading. This takes time away from teaching other subjects. When there are students reading at a level at both ends of the spectrum, one style of teaching can not meet all the needs of the children. Everybody suffers in the end, and it is a great burden on the teachers and their time when federal funding is at stake. Not all children learn at the same rate. The requirements of NCLB are insurmountable when we are talking about a nation of children.

No Child Left Behind is based on something that has never existed. The fact that high school kids could not read upon graduation and the rising high school dropout rates were also reasons for the NCLB Act. Due to failure to meet stringent federal standards, thousands of schools, mainly in low-income areas, are targeted for closure with the teachers and principals targeted for firing. Tens of thousands of schools are labeled chronic failures, with little or no additional help to look forward to. Meanwhile, more and more students fall behind.

The United States has steadily fallen down the ladder on the worldwide scale for education. If teachers need better training, then improvements should be made at the university level to meet the standards to graduate as a teacher. Parents have to become more involved in the learning process with their child. Children need to apply themselves to their schoolwork. We have to get excited about learning. Learning is supposed to be fun and interesting. The future of the No Child Left Behind Act is unclear. I believe that education is important. I believe that education is a key stepping stone that can improve your life. With sufficient funding, I think that we could do better with a different program that is more supportive of teachers and students. When you know better, you do better. We have to do better for our children and their future. They are our future.