In
virtually any field be it medicine, urban planning, law, or economics, students
are always introduced to the Doctrine of Unintended Consequences. The field of Education
is no exception. When the  No Child Left
Behind Act was implemented, its advocates promised that it would revolutionize
education ensuring that all students would improve their learning, teachers
would be held to higher standards and levels of accountability, and schools
would become more innovative, efficient, and economical. Good teachers would be
rewarded, poor teachers would be forced to improve, children would receive a
better education, and everyone would benefit. To make a long story short, that
did not happen.

The
NCLB was introduced in 2002; however, it was preceded by decades of the
government trying to solve stubborn, seemingly impossible challenges within the
K-12 education system.

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The history behind the NCLB started in 1965.
In 1965 there was an act that was passed by President Johnson called the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The act was funded to take money from
the government and give it to schools that had 40% kids from low-income
families. However, some schools were using the money to help the whole school
and not the children who needed help. This caused Title One of the act to be
tightened up. After that President Carter reinstated the act to place the
schools with at least 75% of children in poverty in statewide-run programs.
Then in 1981 under President Reagan the Education Consolidation and Improvement
Act (ECIA) was passed which said that Title 1 was a separate program than the
rest of the act. This meant that more of the focus was going to poorer schools.
In 1989 President George H.W Bush met with governors to set forward a
federal-state partnership and to set up normal education goals. President
Clinton in 1994 signed in a law called the Improving Americas Schools Act. The
act was to put forward standardized testing to students, check to see if the
schools needed to improve in the ADP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and to make
improvements, and brought Chapter 1 back into the act as Title 1. Chapter 1 is
a program that helped special needs of educationally deprived children who live in
areas with high concentrations of children from low-income families. Lastly,
in 2002 President George W. Bush signed a new act into a law which was called
the No Child Left Behind Act.

When
I was a student at Bedminster Township school, the curriculum was changed
because of the NCLB. My personal experiences during when the NCLB was enforced
has made me understand the NCLB. One of my experiences was the school focused
too much on testing and math, reading writing, and science. When I was in
fourth grade I had to take the NJ ASK. I felt that it was not a positive
experience. It was three grueling days of test- taking. Also, I got the feeling
that the teachers were not happy about giving the tests.

The
teachers were in a bad mood whenever they had to teach something or read
something about a national test. Secondly, teachers were furious with the NCLB
because their jobs were on the line. Let’s say if a majority of their class
failed the national test they would be fired. Even teachers that had tenure would
be fired. Correspondingly, if the school did not do well and was told numerous
times to change then the school would be shutdown. Another thing that teachers
were furious about was that some of the teachers would be publicly humiliated by
a grade in the newspaper. Thirdly, teachers were furious about how they were
losing their students and themselves to standardized testing. In a quote by a
former teacher, Samantha O says “I am burnt out. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know
what fight to fight. I don’t know who to turn to. I don’t want to give up on my
kids because they are the ones that I feel like are being cheated, but I am
tired and I do not see an end in sight. Our system is broken. It needs to be
fixed. Not a temporary fix, but a real one.” (Education Votes,2015,1) This was
the general consensus of teachers who were angered by the NCLB. The teachers
had a right to be furious because classrooms and instruction got too rigid.

When the NCLB first became a
law, it changed the way that education was perceived. It became more rigid as
the teachers started to become stricter and classrooms started to take on an
essentialist view point. Essentialism in education is the idea that children
should learn the traditional basic subjects thoroughly enacting a
back-to-basics approach. Students would be tested in grades 3-8 and in high school.
The tests were mostly about reading and math, which was a part of the common
core. In order to prepare the students for the tests, they were given homework.
The homework was based on the subjects that were needed to pass the test.
During the NCLB students got a lot of homework. As schools were focusing so much
on the core subjects, there was not a lot of time to teach the students
non-core, but valuable subjects such as Art, Music, and sports. The teachers
were told that the children should get mastered for the test without being
required to truly learn. As education started to become harder to understand,
we have to look at the different factors to why there are differences in
education.

Education is full of people with different
backgrounds. By exploring the three reasons of how education impacted
sociology, we can understand how education is different for various people.
When a person goes to school, they will benefit in the future from receiving the
best education possible. However, it depends on a families and towns overall wealth
and taxes that make a difference in the school. Let’s say if a person lives in
a district where a lot of people own their houses. The tax rate to the school
goes up, but if a person lives in a district where people rent or live in
government housing then there would not be enough taxes to go to the school. This
means more of the necessary resources are going to the wealthy districts. While
the poorer districts use outdated materials that may not cover what is on the
test.

In
2002 George W. Bush signed in the No Child Left Behind Act in a bipartisan way.
The act was supposed to help with academic concepts that needed to be improved.
Firstly, the NCLB was supposed to help with improving test scores. Schools were
supposed to teach by the standards of what the NCLB put forth. The subjects
that were mainly focused on were reading and math. By focusing on the core
curriculum, it was projected that students would learn what they needed to know
and do well on tests. Secondly, every child was to have an equal education. No
matter if a child is rich or poor the NCLB said that every child gets the best
education possible. People thought if the students all got the same style of
teaching they would pass the standardized tests. However, this did not happen. For
example, children with disabilities were not given the necessary accommodations
they needed to succeed. This is because under the act every child was treated
equally even if they learned differently. Thirdly, there was a higher
requirement for education. In schools, it is the job of the teachers and the
school districts to enforce the standards. In fact, according to ed.gov it says
that “Under No Child Left Behind, states are working to close the
achievement gap and make sure all students, including those who are
disadvantaged, achieve academic proficiency. Annual state and school district
report cards inform parents and communities about state and school progress.
Schools that do not make progress must provide supplemental services, such as
free tutoring or after-school assistance; take corrective actions; and, if
still not making adequate yearly progress after five years, make dramatic
changes to the way the school is run.” (ed.2004) However, many schools simply
did not have the resources to comply. Another requirement was teachers had to
be highly qualified in the subject that they were teaching. For example, a
teacher who was teaching Special Education had to learn every subject in order
to teach. Lastly, teachers had to implement a new form of teaching. The teaching
is called Competency-Based Education. Competency Based Education is which “teaching and learning
are designed to ensure students are becoming proficient by advancing on
demonstrated mastery and schools are organized to provide timely and differentiated
support to ensure equity. (Competency works,2012,1)
Which means that the schools use to teach the Core subjects that are important
for standardized tests. Nonetheless, the No Child Left Behind act caused
more problems than it was expected to. 

One
of the problems was that schools were focusing on the core rather than arts
programs, music programs, and other “non-critical” activities. Since students
were required to complete more homework than in previous years, there was not
time to put arts in to the schedule of some students. This affected students
because it reduced a student’s chance to show creativity. In fact, in poor
schools they were more likely to have the arts programs cut. In an article from
2007 it talks about the effects of the NCLB in the future school “If NCLB
continues, rich kids will study philosophy and art, music and history, while
their poor peers fill in bubbles on test sheets. The lucky few will spawn the
next generation of tycoons, political leaders, inventors, authors, artists and
entrepreneurs. The less lucky masses will see narrower opportunities
(Rothstein,2007, pg3)” Another problem was that there was too much of the blame
placed on the school and its teachers. With the NCLB schools were supposed to
teach the pupils the core in the best way for the students to pass on the test
and the schools would get funding. However, the use of standardized tests to
test a schools’ ability to teach is wrong as the standardized tests can be biased.
In fact, if the schools did not do well there was a high possibly that teachers
were going to get fired based on the scores rather than experience or
competence. Another thing is that since the states set the standards, many
states simply lowered the standards by literally making the tests easier in
order to continue to get funding. The last problem that I am going to talk
about is NCLB set unrealistic goals. One of the goals that the act set was
every child should be proficient by the year 2014. As 2014 came students were
not 100% proficient in school, which caused a disproportionate number of poor
schools to have funding reduced. It was an unintended consequence.  

“Education then, beyond all other devices of
human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel
of the social machinery-Horace Mann (Brainyquote,2017)”

With
the NCLB we think about the what it was supposed to do and why it did not work.
Now, by looking at sociology we understand before, during, and after various
times in education.

            Way before the NCLB became a part of
education and its effects people wanted greater educational equality. In fact,
people were saying that this new piece of education would be the one that would
solve the problems in education. One of the ways that educators tried to fix
education was by using affirmative action. Affirmative action was that schools,
colleges, and others gave minorities advantages because of past discrimination. “the people who had benefited by…higher education
admissions policies had been essentially white males, particularly if they had
a legacy. Affirmative action was an attempt to bring equity and equal opportunity
to the admissions process. (Webster,2017,1)” Nonetheless, this concept
did not go well. Not only minorities were given preferable treatment, sometimes
their admission would cause a person with higher grades and test scores to be
pushed aside. As a result, those students who were denied by the college
claimed that they had the better grades and claimed reverse discrimination. In fact, a young woman named Abigail Fisher sued
“University of Texas after being denied admission, claiming the decision was
made because she is white. (Webster,2015,2)” The court ruled for the university.
Another way that educators tried to fix education was busing. What the schools
did in Detroit was take poor students and take them to a rich district school
and take rich students and put them in a poor district. The reason to why this
happened was it became the last resort to fix segregated schools. The
result was horrible. The argument was said to be that “Some (black and white alike) opposed it because
they preferred segregated schools. Many other families didn’t want their children
traveling further to school or having to switch schools, and opposed it for
practical reasons. (Alvarez,2013,3)” There was opposition on economic grounds.
A family in a wealthy district did not want their children sent to poor
schools.

Another thing that we
need to learn about the NCLB that it did indeed cause some groups of people to be
left behind. One group of students that people thought needed help was the
students with disabilities. Even though these students had a law called IDEA,
parents felt that the teachers were not qualitied. IDEA was the law that gave
special needs children a free education with the services that they need. In
fact, “Only 57 percent of special education teachers say they
are “very” familiar with their state’s academic content for the subjects they
teach. (AdvocacyInstitute,2017,3)” In addition, teachers were less confident in these
students scoring proficient on the test. Parents also thought the schools are
creating pressure on the children with disabilities.  Since the students took standardized tests
they thought that the scores were included. It turned out schools, rather than risk
a decrease in funding, decided to not include test scores from children with
disabilities. This was because the scores were artificiality higher that give
them funding. Secondly, a group that was in need of help students that were illiterate.
These students were not getting the help that they needed. Some of the students
were reading way below the level that they should be. In a speech to congress,
Senator John McCain talks about “Unfortunately,
we can no longer take for granted that our children are learning to master even
the most basic skill of reading. A recent survey reported that less than
one-third of fourth- graders in America are “proficient readers. (McCain,2001) With
the students with disabilities and the illiterate not doing well, people wanted
to have a program that would help these groups succeed in school like the NCLB
that would include these two group in test scores. Thirdly, before 2001 teachers’
unions were very powerful. So, let’s say if a class did not pass the
standardized test, because of the power of the teachers’ unions that teacher
would not be fired. “This is due in large part
to the powerful influence of teacher
unions, who are usually able to block attempts
at school and teacher accountability including school choice, merit pay, and
tenure reform. (Miller,2011,2) People thought that teachers deserved
protection, however some of the congressmen, senators, and some parents thought
that the union had become too powerful, so they demanded that the power be
reduced, which the NCLB did. In a quote by George W. Bush he blames the
teachers for not helping the students when they needed to and not showing the
students’ progress “No longer is it acceptable to hide poor performance.
No longer is it acceptable to keep results away from parents. (Harris, Lind,
andTamas,2008,158) As we recall the teachers being part of a powerful union and
being blamed for not doing their jobs, the act was passed and education would
not be the same as we look at what happened during the NCLB.

            As power was being taken away from
the teachers more were losing their jobs and leaving the profession. Teachers
were being held accountable for factors beyond their control. It was a
teacher’s job to make sure that students know their math, reading, and science.
If the students did not do well the teachers were fired. “When you then talk about the problems in education,
all eyes turn to the teachers – they aren’t working hard enough, or they’re too
greedy, or they’re not accountable. Rather than focus on education as a broken
system, the debate becomes about fixing individual teachers. (Long,2004,1)”
This means that even it is the fault of the system, people need someone to
blame so they choose the educators for not doing their job. “They fire teachers
because they can’t fire poverty. (Ravitch,2010)” Many teachers were
fired because of not teaching to the test.

During the NCLB people of a
minority races were suffering more than ever. In a study done it showed that
“Although Black and Hispanic elementary, middle and high school students all
scored much higher on the federal test than they did three decades ago, most of
those gains were not made in recent years, but during the desegregation efforts
of the 1970s and 1980s. (Dillion,2009)” This means that most of the
improvements happened in the 1970-1980’s before the NCLB. According to the same
article the progress went down in minority groups since the start of the NCLB. Parent
involvement was important to the creators of the NCLB. It is true that parents
wanted their children to do well in school. This was why part of the NCLB was
to show how their child’s schools grade and also their teachers grade in the
newspaper. “Parental involvement is a component of school and classroom. Every
school that receives Title I funds must implement a program to involve all
parents in way that supports students’ achievement and success in school.
(Epstein,2005,2)” This means that in order for a child to succeed parents and
the school have to be considerate of the support the child needs. Between the
years of 2001 and 2015 the NCLB was a part of education and caused some effects
that set education back.

            When the
NCLB was eliminated in 2015, there were a lot of things that people were
strongly against about the NCLB. One of the reasons was that parents, teachers,
students, and other did not like the NCLB. All of those people said that the education
system had become to test orientated. With all of the testing children were being
taught to get ready to take the test. In fact, “system involving high-stakes
testing have contended that these systems narrow the curricula to what is
tested{and}producing heighten test-taking skills without the actually learning
of content. (Dworkin,2005,3)” Students were supposed to learn the concepts that
would be on the standardized test. This means reading, math, and writing. In
addition, students were given not enough time to prepare for taking the tests.
To prepare teachers would have to have a curriculum that involved homework,
mock tests, and so much more. Based on a child’s cognitive abilities some could
not handle the task. It caused a lot of stress for the student.

It was not just the students who were stressed, it was also
the teachers. Teachers felt that they were powerless to respond to what their
students needed. Likewise, the teachers were being blamed for their students
not passing.

            Research is
the most important thing to recognize the effect of a particular change. If I
had to do research this is what I would do.

I would start with a survey and
email to every student in the college. However, the first 500 students who responded
to me would have answers included. On the survey, there would five questions
that I would ask on it. The five questions would be what type of school did you
go to and what years, where was it, how much homework did you get a day, what
kind of standardized tests did you have to take and in what grades, and did you
feel pressured with learning the materials. Students will have a while to
complete that. Once I get 500 responses the survey will shut down and I will
gather the information. What
I would be trying to figure out is based on what year, schools, and others that
they went to is how where they effected by the NCLB.

Next, I would have my
information and would follow up some of the students with an additional email
that would be sent out a week after the study. The students would not be
required to leave their name, but if they did it would be good. This is because
I would put their names in the computer and it would be randomly organized by
number. I would ask for an informal interview when they did not have class. I
would ask some more in-depth questions and ask if a can record the discussion. When
all of the meetings are done I would listen to the responses that I had
recorded and put the information with the people.

With the new information in
the study, I would start to look up some historical methods about the NCLB and
see other research has been done. Then I would compare my notes to what
research has been done. After I compared my notes to the research than my paper
would start.

In the beginning of my paper
I would have an abstract of the what the paper will be about. Then I would go
into why I choose this topic. After that, I would go into the research that has
been done by researchers and go into
detail about it. Next, I would go into my own research that would be full of
quotes, numbers, and other important information and how I did my research.
Lastly, I would sum up my research and restate my points.

I feel that my idea would help to contribute
to the research already done is that some of the research was done during and
after the NCLB. There are not of research that was done from students in my
generation, who want to school before the NCLB and lived during the NCLB. Also,
they had time to think about their school life and want to understand about
what the NCLB has done to education.

            When
we think about education, we think about the students, teachers and others that
we are teaching in a group. Whether they are poor or rich, white or black, etc.,
we want them to succeed with an equal chance. Nonetheless, with the NCLB we see
that it failed not just the students but the education system as whole. By
imposing arbitrary standards, and short-term deadlines, it failed to address
the deep-seated problems that require broad, long term solutions. Now that the
Every Students Success Act has replaced the NCLB, only time will tell if true equality
is possible.