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POLICY ANALYSIS ON THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT OF 2001 Byron Toliver California State University, Long Beach May, 2013. Introduction.
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POLICY ANALYSIS ON THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT OF 2001 Byron Toliver California State University, Long Beach May, 2013
Introduction • As part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society, Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) (Brown-Nagin, 2006; P.L. 89-10). • At the time the ESEA was the most expansive federal education bill ever passed and was the centerpiece of President Johnson’s Great Society Legislative Agenda (Brown-Nagin, 2006). • The ESEA was designed to rectify the inequality in education that was revealed while Civil Rights Activists lobbied Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Brown-Nagin, 2006). • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was the start of federal education funding for disadvantaged children in the U.S. (Murnane, 2007). • With its ability to distribute funds based on the number of children living in poverty, the ESEA’s Title I is the U.S.’s primary compulsory education program (Murnane, 2007). • The NCLB is Congress’s most recent reauthorization of the ESEA. It is a huge change in primary and secondary education, as the policy required states to annually test the reading and mathematics skills of all public school students (Murnane, 2007).
Social Work Resonance • Analysis of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is important for Social Workers because they need to be kept informed of the consequences this policy can create for the clients they serve. • Through their use of the Ecological Perspective, Social Workers can identify risk factors for poor school performance that are linked not only to school factors but also to factors within the home, family, neighborhood, community, and personal characteristics of the student (Lagana-Riordan & Aguilar, 2009). • NCLB can have costly effects for Social Work clients, as it can change the way that they are taught throughout primary and secondary education, affecting the acquisition of the skills that they will need to attain employment as adults.
Literature Review • From it’s very start, the United Stated States has attached great value to education, as it was seen as being essential to the preservation of freedom and democracy as well as an important way to fulfill America’s promise of an equal opportunity to achieve one’s dreams. • Historically, public education in the U.S. was left up to state governments and local school districts to decide, as there was no mention of schools or education in the United States Constitution (Caldas & Bankston, 2005). • From the very beginning of the nation the Tenth Amendment has been loosely interpreted as giving states, not the federal government, power over how to educate the citizens that lived within their borders (Caldas & Bankston, 2005). • States being in charge of the education of their citizens led to education not being equally provided for every one because certain states denied African American, Native American, and Disabled children the right to attend school or only provided the most basic educational resources to them due to racist views.
Literature Review (continued) • Unequal access to education has led African American, Native American, and disabled students, all of whom are also known as “disadvantaged students”; being locked in poverty since they could not acquire the skills needed for highly skilled jobs. • After hundreds of years of being denied access to education the parents of disadvantaged children were able to win the right to attend the same schools as children of European descent, or White children, due to the federal government becoming involved in education. • The slow erosion of local control of public primary and secondary education began with the1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which justified the federal government’s intervention in education to end de jure, or legally, segregated school districts in the South (Caldas & Bankston, 2005). • The U.S. government’s involvement in public primary and secondary education has increased through the enactment of policies to correct inequality in education • The enactment of these policies eventually led to the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, which is the government’s latest attempt to control public education.
Methods • Selected sections of David Gil’s (1992) framework for social policy analysis were used to analyze the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). • The sections of the framework included an explanation of the problem or issue that the policy dealt with, its value premises, theoretical positions, effects, and objectives of the policy, along with the social policy system and the implications of the policy (Gil, 1992). • Primary and secondary data sources along with the data from actual policies, peer reviewed articles, books, newspaper articles, and government databases were used to obtain the necessary information to conduct an analysis of the NCLB. • The electronic catalog from California State University, Long Beach along with internet search engines like Bing, Google and Government websites, such as, THOMAS were also used to locate government documents, books, newspaper articles, and journal articles that were used in this study. • All sources of literature that were gathered and utilized to develop this policy analysis which followed Gil’s (1992) framework for policy analysis. • The researcher also used content and critical analysis of the source material to determine the findings, goals, and objectives of the policy.
Policy Analysis • Policy Objectives • The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was enacted to: To improve the education of disadvantaged students who have traditionally been left behind in American schools by “ensuring that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic assessments” (U.S. Department of education. 2004, p.1). • To close the achievement gap between White, economically advantaged students and students who are at risk of school failure. (Lagana-Riordan & Aguilar, 2009). • Effects • U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings in 2007 stated that No Child Left Behind is working because younger students have made more reading progress in 5 years under NCLB then at any time over the past 28 years combined (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). • She also noted that the reading and math scores in the early grades, where the law had focused its efforts, had reached all time highs (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). • Critics of NCLB argue that it has failed due to the problems it has unintentionally caused and they observe that by mandating states to test their public school students annually and show that they are constantly making progress toward the federal government’s goal of every student being proficient in math and reading by 2014, they have pressured states to change how their tests are scored allowing more students to pass the tests in an effort to show they are making progress (Hickok & Ladner, 2007).
Policy Analysis • Effects (continued) • The Critics of the No Child Left Behind Act also argue that the federal government's failure to provide adequate funding for the law has helped to continue discrimination to be present in educational outcomes and opportunities by perpetuating gaps in educational quality for different cultural, racial, and ethnic groups (Gay, 2007). • This has occurred because school districts and states with large poor rural and urban community populations do not have the property tax base to create the amount of money that is needed to hire teachers capable of providing a good education for their children (Gay, 2007). • Implications of the Policy • NCLB’s emphasis on standardized testing can have very bad consequences for the future of America because it has caused schools, particularly in urban school districts, to narrow their curriculum so that teachers are only teaching their students the knowledge and skills they need to pass the annual test, brushing aside other subjects in the process (Hursh, 2005). • Teachers in Texas have been noted to be teaching their students how to write well instead teach them how to write five paragraph essays that have five sentences in each paragraph so that they pass the annual standardized test which does not transfer well to skills that are required beyond the rest and outside of the school causing disadvantaged students to fall farther and farther behind their more affluent peers (Hursh, 2005). • Also, the threat of punishment for a school not passing it’s state’s annual standardized test might endanger NCLB’s promise to provide each student with a high quality education by increasing the failure rates of students who are already struggling in school (Gay, 2007). • For example, New York schools have responded to the pressure to raise their standardized test scores by pushing low-performing students out of school, then, rather than counting the student as a dropout, they are instead listing them as either working on a Grade Equivalency Diploma (GED) or as if they had transferred to an alternative school (Hursh, 2005).
Summary • The largest problem that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) has caused has been teaching to the test. • Teaching to the test is the greatest problem caused by NCLB because if the schools are only teaching children certain subjects, where are they to learn all of the skills necessary to contribute to America’s ever changing economy? • A second major problem with NCLB has to do with the affect that the law’s demand for schools to show that they are making adequate yearly progress (AYP) is having on them. • The pressure for schools to show that they are making AYP can lead them to pressure low-performing students to drop-out of school, to drop out of school, or pressure them to transfer to another school so that their test scores will not count toward the school’s proficiency rate. • Lastly, the failure of the federal government to provide enough funding to enact of NCLB’s programs has led to the perpetuation of discrimination in educational outcomes and opportunities by allowing gaps in educational quality for different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. • School districts with large poor urban and rural populations do not have the tax base to create enough money to hire adequately trained teachers, principals, ancillary staff, to refurbish old buildings, and to update their materials which can lead more schools in large poor rural and urban communities to end up trapped in a cycle of being declared as failing under NCLB’s guidelines and penalized year after year because they are losing federal money that they could be using to improve their educational resources.
References • Brown-Nagin, T. (2006). Major acts of Congress/Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Retrieved from http://www.enotes.com/major-acts-congress/ elementary-secondary-education-act • Caldas, S. J., & Bankston, C. L. III. (2005). Federal Involvement in local school districts. Society, 42(4), 49-53. • Gay, G. (2007). The rhetoric and reality of NCLB. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 10(3), 279-293. Gil, D. G. (1992). Unraveling social policy. Rochester, VT: Schenkman. • Gil, D. G. (1992). Unraveling social policy: Theory, analysis, and political action towards social equality (5th ed.). Rochester, VT: Schenkman Books. • Hickok, E., & Ladner, M. (2007, June 27). Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind: Federal management or citizen ownership of K-12 education?(Research Report 2047). Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/ Research/Reports/2007/06/ Reauthorization-of-No-Child-Left-Behind-Federal-Management-or-Citizen-Ownership-of-K-12-Education • Hursh, D. (2005). The growth of high-stakes testing in the USA: Accountability, markets and the decline in educational equality. British Educational Research Journal, 31(5), 605-622. • Lagana-Riordan, C., & Aguilar, J. P. (2009). What’s missing from No Child Left Behind? A policy analysis from a social work perspective. Children & Schools, 31(3), 135-144. • Murnane, R. J. (2007). Improving the education of children living in poverty. Future of Children, 17(2), 161-182. • U.S. Department of Education. (2004). Elementary & secondary education (Title I of Federal Law). Retrieved from http: //www2.ed.gov/policy/ elsec/leg/esea02/pg1.html • U.S. Department of Education. (2007, January). Secretary Spellings highlights student success, economic benefit of No Child Left Behind Act at Northeast Leadership Forum Annual Luncheon (Archived Information). Retrieved from http: //www2.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/01/01192007.html