Reform Act makes long overdue changes

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was put into place to keep students from falling behind on the curriculum requirements and failing, and to make it so students who were behind could still move forward in grade levels.

The law required schools to administer annual standardized testing to students. Initially, the positive effects of the law were being seen. Test scores went up, and students were not being held back.

Like any law, the No Child Left Behind Act had its side effects. Over the past 15 years, the law has shown enough negative outcomes that it now requires reform. Students are being held to higher standards that they are falling short of due to lack of funding, creativity and support. Through the act, each student is treated the same as the next, with no room for individuality in standardized testing.

Students with different ability levels, socioeconomic status or native language are all held to the same standards. Due to the government's inability to fund the program properly, money and budgets were shifted to focus more on math and science, rather than reading, art and music. With a lack of focus on the arts, student creativity and overall desire to learn declined.

Teachers are evaluated based on their students’ test scores, regardless of how many learning disabled or ELL students they may have in the class. Rather than encouraging creativity and enjoyment in learning, teachers are now shown to be “teaching to the test.” The school year is spent preparing for two or three standardized tests, rather than putting value in learning the subject.

Since the beginning of the No Child Left Behind Act, more schools have been classified as “in need of improvement” than before the law was enacted. It is clear that the law was underfunded, outdated, unsuccessful and in dire need of reform.

The newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act will attempt to tackle these problems. The Federal Government will no longer have control over the tests that schools take. Teachers will no longer be evaluated by their students’ standardized test scores. States will now have to evaluate teachers based on other factors, such as the learning ability of students and how engaged they are with the class.

At the reform act signing ceremony, President Barack Obama said, “This bill makes long-overdue fixes to the last education law, replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to reform with a commitment to providing every student with a well-rounded education.”

Instead of shutting down schools that don't meet test score requirements, the new act makes it so tests carry less weight in these decisions. States can now decide which tests best fit their schools, rather than the federal government treating each state the same.

At the reform act signing ceremony, President Barack Obama said, “This bill makes long-overdue fixes to the last education law, replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to reform with a commitment to providing every student with a well-rounded education.”

The federal government will no longer require academic standards for the common core subjects. It is reasonable to hope now that the government has less say in standardized learning, that schools will soon become places with more creativity and enjoyment of learning again. In the words of President Obama: “With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamental American ideal that every child — regardless of race, income, background, the ZIP code where they live — deserves the chance to make out of their lives what they will.”

 

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