The No Child Left Behind pros and cons was a George W. Bush initiative to improve the test scores of elementary, middle and high school students throughout the United States. Since its implementation, the law has faced both criticism and received support from educators, government agencies and lawmakers alike. The pros of the bill are that it increases quality control, federal educational funds and focuses on disadvantaged members of society. Top cons of the No Child Left Behind Act include rigid parameters and too much emphasis on certification and test scores.
- Better Quality Measurements: One of the pros of the No Child Left Behind Act is that it gave educators a better set of quality control measurements. They are in a better position to be able to accurately measure the academic progress of their student bodies. Educators are also able to isolate performance measurements for specific groups, such as Caucasian females.
- Better Focus on Disadvantaged Groups: Since the No Child Left Behind Act requires that performance measurements for different groups be reported separately, educators can focus on those groups that need more attention. For example, if test scores reveal that Caucasian females are lagging in a particular subject matter, the schools can respond by changing the methods in which that subject matter is presented to that group.
- An Increase in the Amount of Federal Funds: A top pro of the No Child Left Behind Act is the fact that it increased the overall amount of federal educational funds for schools. Educational programs for traditionally disadvantaged groups, such as disabled students, also increased.
- Teacher Certification: Another pro of No Child Left Behind is that it requires teachers to obtain certification in order for the school to get a good rating. This increases the overall quality of education by ensuring that those who teach are practicing according to standard.
- Higher Focus on Test Scores: Some state that the No Child Left Behind Act places too much of a focus on test scores. Instead of becoming good learners, students are now becoming good test takers. In addition, many strategic decisions are based on the results of the test scores, which may not be a complete accurate picture of what's really going on in the school environment.
- Rigid Standards: A con of No Child Left Behind is that the rules and standards tend to be somewhat inflexible. Schools might get a failing grade due to poor performance in one area, but they may in fact have high performance in another. The law does not take into account the big picture and penalizes schools that should not be.
- Decrease in State Rights: Opponents of No Child Left Behind argue that the rights of individual state jurisdictions are decreased under the law. They no longer have the ability to decide how and when their children are tested and evaluated. The law also mandates that states report the test results according to specific regulations.
- Focus on Specific Groups: Also a con of No Child Left Behind, the focus on certain groups within the educational system means that a school can be marked as failing. If even one group fails to make adequate progress on the test scores, the fact that the rest of the school's groups did well means nothing.
- Emphasis on Paper Qualifications: Those against No Child Left Behind state that the law puts too much of an emphasis on what qualifications teachers can demonstrate on paper. Teachers are typically required to be certified in each subject matter they teach, which can put undue burden on elementary schools. Good teachers can be deemed to be unqualified under the law.
- Failing Schools Receive Sanctions: Some argue that punishing schools that receive a failing grade is a major con. Because the law doesn't take into account the overall performance of a school, a good school might be forced to redistribute its funds to cover the costs of transferring students to another school.
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