The ‘No Child Left behind Act’ of 2001 has had various challenges to the system of education. Below are some of the five issues raised and the solutions thereof.
Exerting Unnecessary Pressure on Younger Children
The ‘No Child Left Behind’ policy requires that children be able to speak and communicate fluently by the time they are graduating from their third grade. This implies that the necessary educational materials and pressure has to be exerted on them to ensure that they have mastered their spoken language. A third grader is a young child who is still setting foundations on many other aspects of her life. Although language is necessary at this age, there are other emphases such as mastering the people around them, colors and even the environment (Apple 115). The problem affects both teachers and the children. By emphasizing language mastery, the act ignores other aspects of child development that happens at this stage. This implies that the policy will only favor children with supportive and stable families with a higher intelligence quotient. This may lead to a scenario whereby children can speak fluently yet do not understand such things as color and their environment (Apple 115). For example, a child may be good in language but unable to pass in arts and other areas of learning.
A possible solution to this problem is to put a limit on what is considered to be fluency in language (Sunderman 33). The different environments in which children are brought up make it impossible for them to master the language at the same rate. Children with lighter tongues will master language proficiency even before they reach their third grade. Conversely, pupils with heaver tongues will take a longer duration before they can master some complicated words. This should therefore not be used as a determining factor of a child’s learning capability (Page 470). Factors such the environment in which the child grows and parental influence should be used to grade children in language proficiency. The solution can be implemented by creating the awareness of the issue to the stakeholders; developing a favorable tool for determining language fluency; and educating teachers on the need to emphasize on other areas such as color and environment mastery.
Discrimination against Children with Learning Disabilities
There are some children who are born with various learning disabilities hence require a great deal of patience to learn. Unless such children are closely monitored, it may not be easy to determine what their specific learning weaknesses are (Hayes 184). The age limit and the standards used to test the learning capabilities of children overlook this aspect, thereby discriminating against the children. Some children are slow learners. They therefore require more attention to grasp knowledge (Nash 239). Others may have psychological issues that are likely to minimize their level of concentration. The ‘No Child Left Behind’ system puts excessive pressure on both teachers and students, leaving them with no time to discover and work on some of the learning inabilities of pupils.
Setting specific standards for children is good as it creates a sense of hard work among the children. As much as it should be allowed to continue, the government should not remain insensitive to the different learning capabilities of students (Hursh 499). Considerations should instead be put on the efforts that are invested by the children to achieve the required standards. This implies that as long as a child has put as much effort as the rest to master language or to succeed in various subject but is not as competent as the rest, limitations should not be put on them. Instead, this should be considered as the best they could achieve and, accordingly, be given a chance to proceed with the others (Guisbond and Monty 14). If their learning process remains abnormally slow, then such students should be given more specialized attention as opposed to making them repeat their previous classes and lessons. This would enable the children to achieve their full academic and non-academic potential.
Putting Unnecessary Pressure on Teachers and School Heads
The ‘No Child Left behind Act’ has stipulated specific qualities that should be set by the administration on teachers and school heads. This outlines certain qualities that the teachers should posses in order to teach pupils (Jennings and Diane 110). The government invests heavily in training and qualifying teachers to ensure that they meet the requirements before they can handle their students. This form of qualification is discriminative, because teachers have to be vetted and examined based on specific standards. This implies that teachers who do not meet such qualifications will subsequently lose their jobs. When it comes to learning and grasping new techniques, the system does not discriminate on age. This means that a slow learner will remain to be so irrespective of their age. Teachers who are presumed to be good educators but do not pass the said tests lose their jobs.
The ‘No Child Left Behind’ should not be a self-centered policy that favors only the elite and discriminates against the slow learners. The system has ignored the diversity that is found in the society by setting similar standards for both children and teachers. It is impossible that a group of people will deliver similar academic qualities considering their different gifting (Abedi 12). The fact that a teacher is not fluent in speaking a language does not necessarily imply that they are less capable of imparting such skills to their students. There is more to having the capacity to deliver certain services and affecting the learning end result. Having such an understanding will minimize on the frustrations that the teachers have to go through, particularly losing the jobs they qualified for simply because they could not pass an academic test.
Burdening the Taxpayer
The ‘No Child Left Behind’ places an extra burden on the taxpayer. Under the act, the government has set certain requirements for students and teachers, which require a lot of funding to achieve. This includes some of the test materials that are supplied to schools on a regular basis and the training that teacher have to undergo (Gerston 61). Apart from the mandatory contributions they have to make through taxes, there is also the extra burden that parents and teachers have as they have to invest more in raising the academic standards of their children. Parents are forced to buy more study materials and even hire tutors for their children to ensure that they meet the required academic standards (Dee and Brian 239). Teachers on the other hand have to work harder and invest more of their money in training as they risk loosing their jobs if they do not meet the set standards. Despite these efforts, they are still not guaranteed that their children will qualify through the tests.
Every parent is concerned about the academic prosperity of their children and will be willing to invest in their success. However, with the high living standards and static income, it becomes a burden for them to fund all these activities. The government does not adequately take care of the learning materials of the students hence burdening the parents who have to supplement for them (Ashby 39). It would be beneficial if the government provided adequate learning materials according to the needs of different children. Extra lessons should also be provided for slow learners so that the learning burden is minimized on the children. If the government cannot provide such materials and equipments, it has to be lenient on the qualifications set on children with learning needs. This can be achieved if the government develops a new system for evaluating students who have learning disabilities. The government’s provision of adequate educational materials would bolster the learning outcomes for students without increasing the financial burden for parents and teachers.
Ignoring Other Non-academic Capabilities of Students
The ‘No Child Left Behind’ system values the academic capabilities of students and ignores other non-academic qualities (Beveridge 5). It overemphasizes the academic excellence of pupils and teachers while ignoring other extra-curricular activities. Child growth revolves around different aspects which contribute to the child’s intellectual wellbeing. This problem affects learners who are not academically talented. With the current systems, children who are talented in other aspects are considered dump as they are not able to achieve the academic standards required by the new education system (Nufeld 3). Moreover, the age at which children are expected to display academic excellence is too young for them to discover their other non-academic expertise. This affects their self-esteem as they feel they lack the capacity to compete with fellow students.
In a society where success is measured not only by academic prowess, it will be unfair to imply to children that they are failures if they do not meet certain academic standards. The current system does not put in measures where other non-academic qualities of students can be monitored and mentored (Peterson 153). The government should be sensitive especially to students who do not appear to achieve much in their academics and find out if they have other gifts and talents that they can major in. It should be realized that great talents such as singing, sports and athletics are gaining a lot of popularity in the world. Helping children to discover their talents and work on improving them will go a long way in making them successful adults. This should act as an assurance for children who may not have the academic prowess that they have other unique talents that will help them succeed in life. This can be done by training teachers to identify special talents among pupils and helping them to nurture them. Consequently, children will discover their non-academic talents at an early age.
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Beveridge, Tina. "No Child Left Behind and fine arts classes." Arts Education Policy Review 111.1 (2009): 4-7.
Dee, Thomas S., and Brian Jacob. "The impact of No Child Left Behind on student achievement." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 30.3 (2011): 418-446.
Gerston, Larry. Public Policy Making: Process and Principles. California: M.E. Sharpe, 1997.
Guisbond, Lisa, and Monty Neill. "Failing our children: No Child Left Behind undermines quality and equity in education." The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas 78.1 (2004): 12-16.
Hayes, William.No Child Left Behind: Past, Present, and Future. New York: R and L Education, 2008.
Hursh, David. "Assessing No Child Left Behind and the rise of neoliberal education policies." American Educational Research Journal 44.3 (2007): 493-518.
Jennings, Jack, and Diane Stark Rentner. "Ten big effects of the No Child Left Behind Act on public schools." Phi Delta Kappan 88.2 (2006): 110.
Nash, David. "Improving No Child Left Behind: Achieving excellence and equity in partnership with the states." Rutgers L. Rev. 55 (2002): 239.
Nufeld, Jean. No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Acts: Their Effects on the Academic Success of Minority Learning Disabled Students in Arizona. Arizona:ProQuest, 2009
Paige, Rod. "No Child Left Behind: The ongoing movement for public education reform." Harvard Educational Review 76.4 (2006): 461-473.
Peterson, Paul No Child Left Behind ?: The Politics and Practice of School Accountability. New Jersey:Brookings Institution Press, 2003.
Sunderman, Gail L., et al. Listening to teachers: Classroom realities and no child left behind. Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, 2004.