by Simran V '11

No Child Left Behind?

Why do we have
to take so many irritating
standardized tests? Part of
the reason has to do with the
No Child Left Behind Act
(NCLB). NCLB, approved in
2002, is an act that requires
schools to give students
annual assessments in math
and English. These assessments
are given annually
in grades 3 to 8 and at least
once in high school. After
looking at the number of
students passing these tests
at each school, a school is
labeled. BSGE, according
to Ms. Johnson “hasn’t been
hugely affected by NCLB.”
But if you want to blame
NCLB or the people who run
the country for something,
you can blame them for the
periodic assessments we get
at our school every so often.
They are a result of NCLB.
Although these assessments
don’t affect our class grades,
they’re just another thing to
worry about.
Although we
haven’t been hugely affected
by NCLB, we have been
labeled based on NCLB
standards. Our city labels
schools (including ours)
based on the standards
NCLB has previously set.
According to those standards,
our middle school
received a C and our high
school received an A. According
to Ms. Johnson, “the
‘C’ is a result of screened
admission to our school.
Since we only take in more
advanced students, our
yearly progress is lower than
schools that admit students
at any level and NCLB
grades on something called
AYP, which is adequate
yearly progress.” To avoid
being given a bad score, a
school must have 5 percent
more students passing the
tests than previous years.
But according to Michael
Winerip (New York Times),
“if just one subgroup in one
grade fails to make 5 percent—
poor children, limited
English speakers, the handicapped—
the school is labeled
failing.” Being labeled
failing results in a school
risking “restructuring.” It
is ridiculous that a single
statistic can do so much to a
school. What do test scores
really prove? Some people
may just be bad test takers
and in that case, tests don’t
represent the knowledge you
In previous years, NCLB has
not even been doing what it
proposed to do. According to
the Educational Researcher,
“progress in raising test
scores was stronger before
No Child Left Behind was
approved in 2002, compared
with the four years following
the enactment of the law.”
Also, according to Holding
NCLB Accountable, the
result of NCLB “provides
insufficient evidence that the
law has succeeded in raising
student achievement levels
or closing the nation’s racial
achievement gap.” If NCLB
doesn’t improve performance
of students, then why
is it still being used? Part of
the reason for this is that if
schools don’t obey NCLB,
then federal funding to the
school is cut. The federal
government pays less than
8 percent of each state’s
education costs and even
though that amount seems
minimal, it can take a huge
toll because of recent school
budget cuts.
This toll can be
seen in schools as more and
more emphasis is put on
math and reading. According
to a July 2007 Center
on Education Policy report,
about 44 percent of school
districts have cut time from
one or more activities to
leave more time for reading
and math. The greatest affect
has been on high schools.
Initially, high schools had
educational programs where
students were prepared for
specific careers and activities
were mainly non-academic.
What used to be a time for
students to figure out what
they want to do with the rest
of their lives has turned into
a test-obsessed environment.
But overlooking all else,
the main concern regarding
NCLB is that is has an
unrealistic goal: 100 percent
of students in schools to pass
the standardized exams by
2014. In the future, will 100
percent actually mean 100
percent? Will no child be left

By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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