No Child Left Behind


The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a bipartisan act of congress that is centered around the goal of rising test scores and thereby raising the competency levels of the children of the United States in the core curriculum areas in schools. The bill was proposed and passed into law during the first term of the Bush Administration. NCLB is the most recent piece of federal legislation to advocate standards based educational reform, meaning that standards are to be initially set and each year the schools should show "adequate yearly progress" towards reaching those goals. Almost as soon as it was passed the bill came under fire from school boards and teachers from all over the country. These teachers felt and still feel that taking funding away from schools who have underachieving children will only make the problem worse. It is argued that this will create a dangerous downward spiral that will be impossible to get out of. Another criticism is that giving funding based on test scores will only promote the teachers to "teach to the test," that is only teach what is going to be on the test so children get better grades.

Methods and Goals

As previously stated the goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is to increase proficiency in Americas public schools. This is done through a complex system of judging each individual school on a state by state basis. Each school has to see improvement towards reaching the end goal at the end of each year, progress is judged by giving students standardized tests each year to compare them to last year. If the schools have made their progress at the end of the year they will continue to receive federal funding to buy new supplies or whatever else they might need. If the school fails to meet it's yearly progress goal for three consecutive years they enter the corrective action phase of the act. This phase is set in motion to get the school back on track so the children can continue to learn at an increasing level. It is this portion of the act that is the source of so much controversy. Schools that fail to preform on a yearly basis begin to lose federal funding. It was the opinion of those who wrote the bill that federal funding should be given to schools who show that they can adequately teach the children inside the walls. Schools that have shown an inability to effectively teach students will lose funding. If this lack of progress continues the school is then responsible to provide transportation of the students to other school districts where they can earn a higher quality education. The school can also suffer teacher firings and if the issue progresses long enough and is severe enough then the government will shut down the school altogether and absorb the children into another school system.

The Future of NCLB

The No Child Left Behind Act is currently in the process of getting a face lift. The Obama administration is looking to propose several sweeping changes to what most feel are the weak points in the original bill. These changes include replacing the pass-fail grading system of the bill with one that looks at other factors including attendance and graduation rates. The proposed changes will also likely lessen the severity of the punishment enforced on schools that have failed to meet the progress mark. One of the major changes that are being proposed is the striking of the 100% proficient rule that was the end result of the last bill. Instead the target will be for all students to achieve a state of college readiness by the time they graduate high school. All of these changes and others that are being worked out aim to fix what many see as glaring over sites in the initial law.
It is clear that in just a short time the United States will be facing drastic change in this bill. New teachers will undoubtedly face a new set of challenges with the new law when it is put into place but this is all part of a continuous push towards the education of our students.

Additional Information:

Great site for background knowledge (federal viewpoint)
North Carolina public school system
Future movement in NCLB
Wisconsin struggles with AYP

John Schultz
Ted 420