‘No Child Left Behind’ Celebrates its 10th Birthday. Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Earlier this week I came across an article written by Sol Stern, an author for The Daily Beast, titled, “Still ‘Lying to Children’: How No Child Left Behind Corrupted Education”. In the article, Stern discusses the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB) – enacted 10 years ago this week. He states that, “Expecting all students to be college ready is a hopeless utopian goal that inevitably produces test-score inflation and bad results”.

Jim Pulliam, the Vice President of Company of Experts and a former community college president, is passionate about student learning – which inspired him to establish Distance Edu Learning, the software company responsible for developing Fintelo, a content management system. When developing Fintelo, Jim ensured that the software would engage students by allowing the learner to construct their own learning based on their individual learning styles. In addition, the software has included intended learning outcomes within each lesson of a course – providing learners an increased awareness of what is required of them and allows teachers to evaluate and enhance their own teaching and curriculum. As I read the article, I was curious what Jim’s thoughts on the issue would be. In an email, I sent him a link to the online article I found and wrote, “This week celebrated the 10th anniversary of No Child Left behind. Sol Stern writes that the landmark law has corrupted education. What do you think?” His reply is as follows:

“No Child Left Behind is a deficit based model thus discouraging those that are struggling learners. The NCLB initiative requirements that were implemented measured all students by one test. Thus, if you did poorly on the first test in lower grades you were already identified as a poor learner – kids knew this – thus either quit or used as an excuse I cannot do the work. In addition when one considers the billions of dollars spent on a segment of the school population we had a tendency to forget the students the systems define as gifted. The only benefit it elevated the discussion of the importance of education, although there is a better way than penalizing kids in addition to spending billions of dollars. This does not even address the profession of teaching where as we defined teachers as either good or bad based on their students performance.

I visited classrooms ,K-12, where students were taking the exam. I observed that many filled in the bubbles without reading the questions. They were either bored, did not care, wanted to get to recess or “what the heck” they had learned that they were incapable of doing good work.

Every child has special skills and needs. We visit our existence here on earth with basically with the same intelligence benchmarks. The trouble is we try to measure the results with the money spent while at the same time not including the different ways we learn or respond to school work. If a being is told often enough or included /excluded from “special groups” other students identify with this early on- those that cannot do the work.

It all is a self fulfilling prophesy. If we “BELIEVE WE CAN” chances are we will perform.

Corrupted Public Education – I do not believe the act has corrupted education. I do believe we have lost some good teachers, hurt learners (possibility for life) and made this great nation less competitive for the short or intermediate term.

We will be back – count on it.

I have other thoughts but this is enough rambling. If you really want to know how I feel lets have coffee.”

I am curious to learn what others think of the “No Child Left Behind” Act. I invite anyone to submit their comments to begin the discussion.

Melissa Robaina

About Melissa Robaina

Melissa Robaina, MBA is an Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator and Consultant for the Company of Experts. For the last few years, Melissa has worked for the Company as a content creator and has collaborated with numerous subject matter experts around the world researching, organizing, and writing material that nurtures discussion and is applicable to today’s rapidly changing environment. Melissa has an interest in adult learning theory and is passionate about coordinating, developing, and facilitating transformation solutions in all human systems. Melissa has also co-facilitated Company of Experts offerings related to Change, Paradigm Shifts and Online offerings.

One thought on “‘No Child Left Behind’ Celebrates its 10th Birthday. Good? Bad? Indifferent?

  1. Trevor Warner

    I currently work for a public school system and agree with Jim that the NCLB law did not corrupt education. A more accurate consideration for NCLB would be the same as for all the many federal, state, and local regulations schools have to wade through. They are distractions. With all the nonsense educators have to ‘comply’ with, children are still being educated and prepared adequately for college and life. I recently experienced why this occurs.
    I work in special education and was attending a required yearly team meeting about a middle school student. In response to some suggestions I had, the administrator who was present immediately responded with some regulations tied to NCLB, and used it to shoot down my ideas. However, a classroom teacher, the special education teacher, parent, and speech therapist all caught on to what I was trying to explain. The discussion turned to positive experiences and successes they had with the student in their classes, and began to brainstorm ideas to build on his strengths. These great educators could have been discouraged by the administrator trying to prioritize regulations. But they didn’t.
    This is why education still mostly succeeds. Great people who understand what children need to learn, and who are willing to courageously and diligently do all they can to make it happen.

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