No Child Left Behind: Helping or Hindering?

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is an act that was initially put into place to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so no child is left behind in the school systems. The act was signed into law by then president George W. Bush on January 8th 2002.

Over the past decade numerous changes have been made to Bush’s original NCLB act. In March 2010 President Obama and his administration released a new blueprint for NCLB. Even though countless revisions have been made to NCLB, students, parents, teachers, and tax payers are dissatisfied in the progress that NCLB has made.

According to WashingtonPost.com “ A review of over a decade of evidence demonstrates that NCLB has failed badly both in terms of its own goals…It has neither significantly reduced achievement gaps, even as measured by standardized  exams.”

In 2002 Jack Hart was in the 4th grade, at Park Middle School located in Scotch Plains New Jersey. During Hart’s time at park middle school he took part of NCLB. When asked to describe his experience with the program he stated “it was a waste of my time, and it was embarrassing to be pulled out of class with all eyes on me.” Hart described his experience as almost redundant.

Hart recalled that he would get called out of his elective classes such as art, a Lego engineering class, and a typing skills class. Hart stated that because the school pulled him out of the typing skills class where students were taught the proper way of typing, to this day Hart’s strong suite is not typing because he never learned the fundamentals.

When Hart got pulled out of class he would be taken to a class room and sat down in front of a laptop with a learning program installed on it. He remembers for the language arts portion having to complete lessons on the computer, the whole class time. Ultimately Hart declared that his time spent participating in NCLB was a joke.

Emma Weston who also attended Park Middle School in Scotch Plains, New Jersey participated in the NCLB program during 2006. Unlike Hart she partook in the mathematic part. Weston also got pulled out of classes that she particularly looked forward to throughout the day such as art and choral classes. Similar to Hart, Weston also felt embarrassed to be pulled out of class.

Once Weston was pulled out of class she was taken to a classroom, where a teacher would teach her and other students, basic math skills. Unlike the language arts (reading and writing) mathematics had an actual teacher teaching the students.

Romans said that once she actually “applied and opened up to the material that the teacher was teaching it helped her [mathematically], however she still felt behind and confused in her regular math class.

Lisa Rebimbas, who is Park Middle School’s principal since 1999 shared her thoughts on NCLB.  She shared that NCLB had a rocky start in not only Park Middle school, but also the other middle school in Scotch Plains. Principal Rebimbas remembers parents not knowing a lot about NCLB, so she had a lot of parent meetings. She also received numerous angry calls from parents telling Principal Rebimbas that they “do not approve of their child being ripped out of classes in front of the whole class!”

Principal Rebimbas recalls that parents had a concern with their kids being pulled out of their classes especially since their peers and friends would be watching. Parents were afraid of their kids being treated differently or being a victim of bullying.

Principal Rebimbas mentioned that over the years NCLB did help Park increase their test scores, but only by a small percentage. She was glad when Obama recently (February 9th 2012) granted waivers from NCLB requirements to several states New Jersey being one of them.

According to a statement provide by the White House, Obama waived NCLB requirements in exchange for that “flexibility”, those states have agrees to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness.

Principal Shareef A. Daaliya of East Camden Middle School of Camden, New Jersey; shared a different experience he witnessed with NCLB. Since Camden is low poverty, schools in the district needed to excel in NCLB to continue getting funding from Title I.

Principal Daaliya remembers the school board putting a lot of pressure on him and his staff to have their students performs amazing academically to keep receiving funding.   He recalls teachers doing everything in their power to help students prepare for standardized tests, so their students would not fall under the curve.

He remembers that he was so nervous when it testing rolled around; because he knew that funding was at stake. Principal Daalyia couldn’t recall the exact percentages of the tests over the past decade, but he said “When NCLB was put into place initially we as a district did a lot better than we had previous years, however as NCLB continued in our schools test scores gradually went back down again.”

Principal Daalyia recalled multiple situations where students would come up to him and complain about NCLB. “Students would come up to me and complain that other students were making fun of them for being placed in “stupid people” classes. And that participating in these classes was a waste of time because they weren’t learning anything.”

NCLB’s initial strategy was to provide greater decision making authority and flexibility to schools and teachers in exchange for greater responsibility for student performance. In the testimony’s that were received from students and school principals from both an urban and suburban area the conclusion that was discovered was that in these two school districts NCLB did not have a great impact on the students.

NCLB had a minute impact on East Camden Middle School, and an even smaller impact on Park Middle School. Students from both districts walked away from the NCLB program with it not impacting their education. Instead of NCLB helping students catch up with their peers it made the students feel left out, behind, and embarrassed. It seems that NCLB caused a problem on the students rather helping them.

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