Is No Child Left Behind leaving students behind?

by Paige Miskie

As an education major there is one phrase I hear that gets muttered and tossed around almost every single class period. “No Child Left Behind.” College classes are informing their Education majors on how they are going to have to teach with this Act in effect. It is an act that is affecting the educators of today and the future educators of America. All people need to know what No Child Left Behind is whether they’re a student, have kids going through elementary and secondary school, or simply a citizen of the United States. We ALL need to know how serious of a problem this can be for our students and America if it is not changed. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is currently leaving our students behind in their education and it needs to be our goal to fix it and put America back on top!

When George W. Bush devised the plan for this Act he believed that the quality of schools were failing our students (Bush, 1). But is it really the quality of our schools leaving children behind or is it this policy? Currently, we describe a school with good quality to be a school that scores high on the standardized tests that were an outcome of No Child Left Behind (Nathan & Schneider par. 1-3). Last time I checked, a good quality school was not one with high-test scores, but a school with teachers who care about the knowledge their student are receiving and making sure that they can remember it and apply it to every day life. In an interview with substitute teacher for Omaha Public Schools she told me that she sees the effects of No Child Left Behind daily. She said, “I have students that just show up and put their names on papers and then they don’t try the rest of the day because they get the points for just being there.” We need to get students out of the habit of thinking that this is okay.

Another thing is standardized tests don’t actually measure intelligibility, but how well a student can memorize information. The problem with this is that students are simply memorizing the information to gain the high-test scores and then forgetting the knowledge that they had acquired in the process. It’s a never ending cycling of memorizing, applying the facts learned, and then forgetting it all soon after the test is complete. We, as a country, need to create a plan that is going to help our students learn information that they will carry along with them. Also, it would help our rankings in the Country because we are currently behind most with our standardized testing scores.

Have you ever taken the time to read country rankings in education? I think you would be very surprised to see that America is actually ranked very low. In 2012, the United States ranked below average in math. You know who else was ranking in the same area? Most underdeveloped countries. In math, 29 other nations out ranked the United States that year. In science, the U.S. ranked 23rd and in reading we ranked at #20 (Chappell par. 3-4). You want to know something scarier? In 2009 we ranked 19th in math, 18th in science, and 9th in reading (Chappell par. 3-4). Did you truly think that our Country was doing so poor with our education system? I

n order to change the quality of our schools we need to devise a plan that is going to better our students education and prepare them for the real world. In order to do that we must rewrite No Child Left Behind. I believe that if Congress would allow a few teachers to sit in on a rewriting of No Child Left Behind that they could help share ideas that would help this Act improve the education of America, because they are the ones who see it everyday. They could assist with ideas for improving education while Congress ultimately decides and writes the changes.

In my future classroom, I hope to apply this with my students. I don’t want the goal of having only high-test scores be an issue in my teaching. Hopefully, the world of being an educator can change once everyone understands the problems with No Child Left Behind and we do something to fix it. I think that if the kinks were worked out it would help America schools jump from ranking #17 in the Best Countries for Education to something higher, hopefully in the Top 10 (“Best Education in the World” par. 18-19).

Works Cited

“Best Education In The World: Finland, South Korea Top Country Rankings, U.S. Rated Average.” Huff Post Education. Huffington Post, 27
Nov. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. Web.

Bush, George W. “No child left behind.” (2001): 1-40. Print.

Chappell, Bill. “U.S. Students Slide In Global Ranking On Math, Reading, Science.” The Two Way. National Public Radio, 3 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. Web.

Schneider, Jack, and Anil Nathan. “How to Measure School Quality.” Education Week. Editorial Projects in Education, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. Web.



3 thoughts on “Is No Child Left Behind leaving students behind?

  1. I was extremely shocked to see that us as a nation have dropped so far in the areas of math, science, and reading. Especially so quickly. I think that students now are just losing the motivation to try as hard. That is also part of the teachers responsibly. When you are young, it’s hard to look far into the future but getting these students to think about what they are going to do can really help in motivation. I like how you added those statistics, it really made me want to continue reading and now help take action against it.

  2. I agree with Josh. Yes in today’s society students are not motivated to do well on standardized tests. But this is mostly their fault. The teacher can’t do everything for their students. The teacher can prepare the students for the test but the students need to do their part by studying and doing well. Doing well on these tests needs to motivate students because in most states, every students needs to pass these tests in order to graduate from high school. What is the student going to do without a high school degree?

  3. I think people are forgetting the point of a high school degree. The point of it is not a piece of paper that says you passed high school, but a sign that you are knowledgeable in basic life subjects. Getting a good test score and forgetting the material soon after does not make you knowledgeable. When teachers don’t make the lessons about learning the material but about getting a good test grade instead it helps the student’s scores, but hurts their basic abilities.

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