Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Accountability/NCLB Savior
Education is a vital tool for success in this country for today’s generation. There can be no growth or expansion unless society as a whole becomes more educated and better trained. In the past it was acceptable to graduate high school and find a job, but now that will not get you very far in life. Children today have to be better, brighter, and more knowledgeable than ever before if they hope to make it into college and make something of themselves in the world. Due to these high stakes for the growing youth in America, the nation had to develop a strategy to guarantee success. This is where No Child Left Behind entered the picture. The schools around the country were not meeting the standards and expectations set for them in order for children to have the most beneficial opportunities. Teachers and other school staff did not have the qualifications, skills, or concern to help the students get the best out of the public school system. After seeing these results and having great concern about the future of children, the national government decided to step in and make a difference. With their guidance and enthusiasm, NCLB has made great strides in raising the bar of education in this great nation. Now teachers must be highly qualified in order to give students the best instruction for learning. This law also made schools and states more accountable for education and performance. Throughout the regulations of this education safeguard, parents are more involved, technology is better incorporated into the learning process, and all minority and disabled students are taught with higher skills and importance.
Highly Qualified Teachers 
Education growth and development has made teacher qualifications a high concern of schools across the nation. These professionals need the experience, knowledge, and skills to lead the younger generation on the pathway to education. With this in mind, NCLB targeted teachers to make sure they met the necessary requirements. To be deemed highly qualified, teachers must have a bachelor’s degree, certification or licensure from the state, and show mastery of the subjects they teach (NCLB Flexibility, 2004). All teachers were required to maintain the highly qualified status by the 2005-2006 school year. It is important that teachers become highly qualified in each subject they teach. Due to the demand for teachers, the Education Department has made flexibilities to give teachers considered qualified in one subject time to receive that qualification in other subjects. This is an important flexibility for teachers that are teaching many subjects. Another key alternative for current teachers is the HOUSSE (High, Objective, Uniform State Standard of Evaluation) evaluation process. This allows teachers to prove their mastery of the subject or subjects they teach without having to return to school (NCLB Flexibility, 2004). It is also now important to properly train teachers who were entering the schools so they can provide the best education to students. This law also targeted teacher recruitment so that school officials could hire the most skilled person for the job. With qualified teachers in the smaller classrooms, students would be able to learn more information and meet state requirements (Whitehouse, n.d.).
|“||In states where the law (NCLB) has been embraced, it is working. Teachers, principals, superintendents, parents and children have all chosen to roll up their sleeves and meet the challenge. As a result, children are achieving, and the achievement gap in the early grades is closing. In those states, public confidence in public education is soaring.||”|
—Dennis W. Redovich, The Nonsense of the NCLB Act and High School Reform
Schools and states are now being held accountable for children learning the necessary material. The schools must measure each student’s annual yearly progress, AYP, in math and reading. Each student must also test proficient on state tests by the 2013-2014 school term. Then the school must keep the parents informed about how it is performing. Each child should be meeting the AYP goal for the year in at least a proficient score or the school is not doing its job. The school is also responsible for letting parents know when a person that is not a highly qualified teacher is instructing their child. The major accountability test for each school is the standardized tests. If schools are unable to pass these tests with the children scoring proficient then that school is not meeting its obligations. With the schools being held more accountable, they are making greater efforts to teach chidren. Not surprisingly, it is working. Everyone is getting involved and trying to overcome any obstacle in the path of education. NCLB has set the margins of excellence and it is making sure that all schools can meet these requirements. This is a positive effect for every parent because then the children will be getting the best education possible (No Child Left behind Act: Wikipedia, n.d.).
Parental Involvement 
Getting parents involved with the school is a major goal of the NCLB. It is important for parents to understand how the schools should be performing. Then they must make every effort to evaluate the education their child is getting compared to the set standards. NCLB has many refreshing ideas about getting parents involved. Some of these rules include annual meetings with parents, notifying parents of teachers that are not certified as highly qualified, and distributing an annual report card on how the school is performing. Still, it is the schools responsibility to inform parents on how their child is progressing and what they can do to help. The most important aspect of this parental involvement occurs when a school is not performing to meet standards. Then the school must notify the parents with options of transferring to other schools that are performing up to standards. The child is also eligible for free tutoring. Overall this should be a relationship of constant communication between the parents and the school. The parents need to know how the child is performing, as well as how the school is meeting its requirements. It is the parents’ obligation to make sure their child is receiving an appropriate education and it is the schools responsibility to provide this useful information to the parent (NCLB Rules, 2007).
Incorporating Technology into Education 
Another major goal of NCLB is to incorporate technology into learning. This would enhance the educational opportunity of the child. There are many schools that do not use technology when teaching. The students are missing out on learning about tools they will use in the future, and it is putting them further behind after they exit the public school. Technology is also a useful tool to get children interested in what they are learning. This is why the government finds it so important to use technology when teaching. By incorporating this technology, students are learning the necessary material while becoming familiar with devices they will use later in life. This is also a way for schools to receive more money. A school can receive extra funding for new devices. This will help the schools that do not have enough money to purchase computers and other materials. Some teachers are finding this new incorporation useful because it reduces the paperwork and makes lessons more flexible (Whitehouse, n.d.).
Minority and Disabled Students 
NCLB has made great strides in increasing the educational benefit of minority and disabled students. Before, these students did not get the attention or recognition they deserved. Many schools would not focus on these groups because they were not the majority of students. Through NCLB, these groups are getting greater attention. This act has shifted the attention to minimizing the gaps in performance between groups based on class or race. Every student has the same expectations and requirements whether they are black, white, rich, or poor. This has made schools focus on groups, such as Latinos or low-income students, that were previously forgotten due to status or financial label (No Child Left Behind Act: Wikipedia, n.d.). These groups are now receiving their appropriate education. Disabled students were also ignored in the past. There were no high expectations of these students so many schools shifted attention away to the larger groups. NCLB changed all of this by requiring disabled students to also meet strict requirements of AYP. This forced schools and teachers to refocus attention to these students so they could pass state tests. This gave disabled students a better chance of learning in the general education classroom and becoming productive members of their school and society (Nagle, Yunker, & Malmgren, 2006).
Limited English Proficiency Students 
“All limited English proficient students will become proficient in English and reach high academic standards, at a minimum attaining proficiency or better in reading/language arts and mathematics”(ED.gov). The Virginia Board of Education adopted English Language Proficiency Standards of Learning in November 2002. “Section 1111 (b)(7) of the NCLB Act requires each state to ensure that all school divisions, will provide for an annual assessment of English language proficiency of all LEP students”(ED.gov).The assessment measures an individual’s oral language, reading, and writing skills in English. A LEP student who is at the lowest levels of achievement in the grades third through eighth has the option of taking the state test as proxy for the English/reading Standards of Learning test with up to three years. Whereas the students who maintain the higher levels of proficiency take the regular Standards of Learning tests. Through this testing, LEP students will get a chance to achieve at their very highest upbringing. The No Child Left Behind Act does not penalize for their level, instead each child gets a chance.
Although NCLB may have caused drastic changes in school across the country, it was a positive effect for the children. Without this legislation, many children would have continued to receive an inadequate education and could have suffered later on through life. Through NCLB, all students are given the same chance to succeed and it is the schools responsibility to help. They must make sure that all students are making progress and achieving set goals every year during their education. It also requires schools to keep parents involved so they know how their child is performing. Through the requirements of highly qualified teachers and the use of technology, students are now receiving one of the best educations this country has every seen. There may be a few dilemmas along the road to success, but overall NCLB has helped to make the state and schools accountable for what the students do. Through this, each child is making great strides and has the best opportunities set on the road ahead. This is not only making the nation’s schools a better place to learn, but is creating knowledgeable students who will one day make this country a better place to live.
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- ED.gov. (2004, March). New No Child Left Behind Flexibility: Highly Qualified Teachers. Retrieved September 11, 2007, from http://www.ed.gov/print/nclb/methods/teachers/hqtflexibility.html
- Nagle, K., Yunker, C., & Malmgren, K. (2006). Students with Disabilities and Accountability Reform. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 17(1), 28-39. Retrieved September 17, 2007, from http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com.proxy.lib.odu.edu/hww/shared/shared_main.jhtml?_requestid=29421
- NCLB Rules for Parent Involvement. (2007). Gifted Child Today, 30(1), 6. Retrieved September 17, 2007, from http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com.proxy.lib.odu.edu/hww/shared/shared_main.jhtml?_requestid=29421
- The Whitehouse. No Child Left Behind. Retrieved September 11, 2007, from http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/reports/no-child-left-behind.html
- U.S. Department of Education. No Child Left Behind. ED.gov. Retrieved October 10, 2007, from http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml.
- Wikipedia. No Child Left Behind Act. Retrieved September 11, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCLB