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Pros and Cons of No Child Left Behind
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is an education bill enacted in 2002 by President George W. Bush during his first term in office.
The controversial bill is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act of 1995, which focuses on the standards of public school education. It tries to make states more responsible for providing good-quality education.
NCLB calls for each state in the U.S. to set measurable academic goals for children in public schools and makes sure these children are tested annually on reading and mathematics.
In addition, kids must take a science test once in elementary, middle, and high school. Every other year, each state must also have a group of its fourth and eighth graders take the National Assessment of Educational Progress testing program: These math and reading tests help states compare their own tests to national exams, to see where they fall in comparison.
If a school fails to make Adequate Yearly Progress, a level of achievement laid out in the NLCB bill, it must make changes -- that are also laid out in the bill. These changes grow in scope over time: If a school fails to make AYP two years in a row, it has to make a plan to improve teaching of the subject it isn't teaching well. If a school doesn't make AYP after six years, it could be shut down or taken over by a private company.
Supporters of the bill say it holds schools more accountable for the quality of their teachers and the results they're producing.
They also point to improved test scores since the bill was implemented. It also gives students choices: If a student's school fails to achieve AYP two years in a row, the individual can transfer schools, get tutoring or attend after-school programs.
The bill has increased the amount of funding schools are receiving, with large amounts of that money going toward improving reading and math performance, as well as implementing assessment programs online.
Those against the bill argue that in order to make test results look good, schools are deliberately skewing various figures. For example, some schools are finding different categories to put school dropouts in -- so that attendance figures look better.
The improved test scores cited by NCLB's supporters are erroneous, critics say, because they're comparing 2005 scores to 2000 - two years before NCLB took effect. Therefore, the scores aren't actually measuring NLCB's affect on schools' quality of education.
Others say that the bill aims too high, and that 100 percent proficiency is a standard that U.S. schools can never reach. Trying to achieve this standard, furthermore, results in teachers focusing solely on material that will be on the state's standardized test, making school about passing a specific test, rather than about learning as a goal in itself.