By Erin Tigro
About No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
No Child Left Behind, established in 2001, made a point of highlighting the achievement deficits apparent in minority and lower income populations. Under the initiative, students had to perform well on standardized tests, which created a wave of pupils who were just learning to pass their exams instead of absorbing key concepts, developing critical thinking abilities and gaining college readiness skills. In addition, students enrolled in underperforming schools could choose to attend a neighboring higher performing one and qualify for academic tutoring, though both options were shown to have minimal impact on student performance. Bush's plan also required all schools to demonstrate that their students were showing proficiency in math and reading by 2014.
New Way for Schools to Get Around the NCLB Demands
While the original No Child Left Behind program has yet to be overhauled in its entirety, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have established an alternate strategy designed to lead to student success in the U.S. They're offering an NCLB opt-out to states that can demonstrate that they're readying pupils for higher education and the workforce. Interested participants will have to map out exactly how they plan to achieve success in their schools and with their educational staff. States that receive waivers will be able to develop their own metrics and methods for creating successful learning environments.
How Education Changes Could Impact Students
For students, this will mean the potential for more individualized instruction. Teachers will be able to focus on molding well-rounded learners who will graduate prepared to succeed - whether in college or career. Because NCLB placed a priority on reading and math, states earning waivers may shift their focus to the in-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas. What's more, instructors will be more closely monitored, which should weed out lackluster educators and provide students with a more rewarding learning experience.
Continue reading for information about President's Obama's Race to the Top plan for K-12 education.