Teacher Anxiety & NCLB
by Cynthia Roberson
Teachers are highly concerned about NCLB.
With the enactment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislature, public schools underwent a drastic overhaul. While some teachers deemed the act necessary and even long overdue, many have yet to see the positive effects of this act. In fact, many teachers are having a hard time seeing the benefits of an act that has done very little to close achievement gaps among all students.
The Meaning of NCLB
NCLB, or No Child Left Behind Act, was signed into law in 2002 by the President George W. Bush. Essentially, the act is meant to increase accountability, on all levels, for student performance in public education. Under this act, schools are expected to have a passing rate among the majority of its students on standardized tests. When this does not take place, parents are allowed to choose different schools for their child and the school may be subject to penalties and takeover by the state. In addition, NCLB increased the required qualifications for special education teachers and paraprofessionals.
The overall expectation of the NCLB is that by 2014 all students in public school will be proficient in reading, math, and science. Any school that receives Title 1 funds is expected to create detailed reports on the progress of all students in the school. The schools must also report specific demographics such as children with disabilities, minority children, children from low-income families and children with limited English proficiency.
Schools are expected to attain proficiency in all areas by 2014.
NCLB changes the accountability of school personnel. No longer can the blame of student failures be placed on one group of people. When students fail to meet the level of proficiency required by the NCLB, all school personnel is held responsible. Schools are now labeled "Adequate Yearly Progress" Or "Needs Improvement." This rating is readily available for anyone to see and use to determine federal funding.
With the stress of the NCLB's expectations, many teachers are finding that they are not qualified to teach the way in which they are expected. Special education teachers have to acquire additional education to be considered highly qualified and many teachers have no idea how to properly assess their students' learning which is imperative in determining if they are attaining proficiency. Moreover, teachers aren't being trained on their role in the NCLB and what changes they need to make to improve student proficiency.
More education is required for some teachers.
Teachers are concerned that NCLB is ineffective. Many feel that the main issue is an outdated and unsuccessful curriculum, and that focusing on test scores will not do much to solve that problem. In addition, many schools don't have the funding necessary to implement highly successful reading and math programs which puts them at a disadvantage when compared with more affluent schools. This is one reason many feel the deadline of 2014 is unfair and unrealistic. And finally, with the push for reading, math and science proficiency, other classes have been decreased or all together eliminated from schools. Physical education, art and music classes have been nearly extinguished from the public school classroom.