No Child Left Behind
A United States Act of Congress, the No Child Left Behind Act is based on the idea that setting quantifiable goals can improve the performance of individual students in their academics. The act also calls for setting of high educational standards, to be determined by each state, the bill does not specify what these standards are.
What the act means
Each school that is federally funded must submit its students to a standardized, state wide, yearly test. The grades of each student is recorded and the grades of certain year students are kept as the target for the school’s Average Yearly Progress, or AYP.
The school must do better than its AYP grades in the next year and failure to do so for two consecutive years results in the particular school being labeled publicly as “ in need of improvement”.
This requires the school to develop a two year improvement plan for its weak subject areas and students are given the option to transfer to a better school, if one exists in the same district.
Failure to surpass the AYP score for a third consecutive year and the school is forced to provide free tutoring sessions for below average students.
Failing to meet the AYP scores for a forth year could mean drastic measures like replacement of the entire staff and introduction of a new curriculum.
Failing to meet the AYP scores for 5 consecutive years and a school will be shut down or restructured entirely. Schools of this status can also be transferred to a private company or managed directly by the state.
Effect on teachers and students
One controversial aspect of this act was the requirement of all students to provide the military access to their personal information. This was highly protested and the bill was amended to give students the option to withhold their information, if they chose to.
Students have the choice of transferring from a school that is failing to meet the AYP standards to a better one. Teachers are now more accountable for the success of their educational methods and many people agree that this is an improvement on the old system. Schools that don’t meet the required standards can suffer penalties, like reduced funding and some argue that this hurts the education system instead of improving it.
Education is an important part of human progress and though we may not have it just right, this bill is a step in the right direction.