What the No Child Left Behind law means for your child
The No Child Left Behind law has brought sweeping changes to education across the nation. Here's what it means to your child.
Does Tutoring Work?
A 2006 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office on how the tutoring services requirement of NCLB is working recommends that the federal government help states evaluate whether tutoring is improving student achievement because no state has done this conclusively.
By GreatSchools Staff
Since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law took effect in 2002, it has had a sweeping impact on U.S. public school classrooms. It affects what students are taught, the tests they take, the training of their teachers and the way money is spent on education.
Debate rages over whether the law is an effective way to improve academic achievement. Congress was scheduled to decide whether to renew it in 2007. But efforts stalled amid criticism of the law from both Democrats and Republicans, and arguments over how to change it.
The latest estimates, according to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon, are that NCLB will probably not be reauthorized until 2010. In the meantime, in October 2008, the U.S. Department of Education added new regulations to the law which include requiring schools to provide a uniform calculation for high school graduation rates, and enhancing a parent's ability to access school choice and tutoring options for their children by requiring schools (and providing them with funds) to communicate to parents about their options in a timely and clear way.
The Focus of the Debate
NCLB's advocates say the landmark law holds schools accountable, empowers parents and is helping to close the achievement gap in America's schools.
Many critics, including those who agree with the law's goals, argue that it is a "one-size-fits-all" approach to education that overemphasizes testing and doesn't provide enough money to schools to achieve success.
As stricter testing requirements and penalties have taken effect, several states have rebelled, challenging the law in legislatures and the courts. In response, the U.S. Department of Education has given greater latitude to some districts and states in satisfying the law's provisions. That, in turn, has drawn criticism that the federal government has gone too far and weakened the law so much that it can't achieve its goals.
For parents trying to figure out how NCLB affects their children, it can be tough to keep up with the fast-moving developments. Here's a primer:
NCLB, Your Child and Your School
The law may help your child in two ways:
- Your child may be eligible to move to a better school or could receive free tutoring.
- Your school could qualify for grants to use toward attracting top-notch teachers or other school programs.
But your child and your school may not receive the full benefits if you don't ask for them. The U.S. Department of Education has neither the personnel nor the budget to make sure that all of the nation's public schools comply with NCLB's complicated regulations. Education officials have said from the start that the key to enforcement would be parents who pressure schools to give their children the options provided by the federal law.