Sample Education Essay Paper on No Student Left Behind

No Student Left Behind


Societies that value the wellbeing of their populations invest heavily in education and training.In order to attain and sustain growth, communities need to exist harmoniously. Important values influence behavior and attitudes of the affected populations. These address social ills that emanate from unacceptable behavior. Quality education and training instils in the student fundamental values and virtues that help them to coexist peacefully. America’s investment in the education sector is worthwhile and contributes directly to its competitive advantage. The No Student Left Behind legislation seeks to enhance accountability in the education sector. Inherent transparency ensures that relevant stakeholders commit themselves to providing quality education to the young generation. The enforcement of this policy has varied implications on the students, teachers, as well as the entire system. This is particular so considering the fact that America’s students are drawn from diverse backgrounds. It is against this background that this paper provides an in-depth evaluation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. After providing vital information regarding the background of the policy, the paper proceeds to detailing its components and programs. Then, it analyzes the implications that the Act has on the students, teachers, and other facets of the education system.

Historical Background

The NCLB Act is a federal law that permits the government to spend resources on programs aimed at supporting K-12 schooling. Thus, it provides funding for both secondary and elementary education (Hess and Petrilli 23). The main aim of this law is to furnish financial resources to students from low income families. Ultimately, it is believed that the strategy helps in attaining equity and ensuring that the affected students share in the national resource base.Over time, reauthorization has led to the expansion and development of the Act. Currently, it is very comprehensive and constitutes of various programs that contribute to the main objective. Regardless of the reauthorization, its main objectives with regards to providing quality education to deserving students remain the same. In 1994, Abedi indicates that the reauthorization process introduced certain accountability elements and desirable standards for learning institutions receiving funding under the law (Abedi 6).

Major Provisions and Programs of the Act

Educational research asserts that the legislation places greatemphasis on accountability, institutional improvement and testing (Sharon, Gene and David 225). Students attending the affected institutions undergo testing in mathematics and reading in grades three to eight annually and once in grades ten to twelve. Further, the law requires individual states to test students inscience once when they are in grade three through five, six through eight and ten through twelve (Linn, Baker and Betebenner 4). The visionary nature of the law expects schools and school districts to ensure enhancedproficiencies of students in reading and mathematics by 2014. Individual states are responsible for defining grade-level performance. The law also requires schools to ensure that they progress constantly towards achieving highest levels of proficiencies. For any learning institution to make a satisfying adequate yearly progress, it is expected to meet its targets pertaining to mathematics and reading proficiency.

 The institutions that fail to meet their annual progression targets are recommended for the school improvement program (Abernathy 76). At this stage, the institutions are expected to draft comprehensive and effective school improvement plans and contribute a certain percentage of the funds to professional development. Arguably, the Act presumes that continued failure and inability to meet the expected targets is contributed to by a host of factors. These include low competencies and poor planning strategies amongst others. Under this law, schools that fail for the third time require to undergo corrective action. While at this stage, the legislation requires them to implement and enforce interventions contained in specified performance improvement legislations (Jones, Jones and Hargove 53). Then, learning institutions that fail for the fourth year undergo effective restructuring. This is comprehensive and involves varied interventions. If the trend continues for the fifth year, the respective schools need to implement a well-defined restructuring plan including reconstitution of institutional leadership and or staff, change of school governance or development into a private management company amongst others.

Further, the Legal provisions require school districts to offer immediate help to students attending institutions that require improvement. In most instances, such help assumes the form of supplemental education services or public school choices. In addition, inherent accessibility enables the respective students to seek for effective intervention measures in a timely manner. During the first year that any school is at the school improvement stage, it is expected to give its students an option of transferring to better performing institutions situated within the same school district. During the second year, the affected school should give their students an alternative to receive vital supplemental education services. According to Booker, Gilpatric, Gronberg and Jansen, these entail tutoring services that are offered by learning institutions in an effort to boost academic performance (Booker, Gilpatric, Gronberg and Jansen 126). This provision also requires the affected school districts to spend a significant twenty percent of their Title 1 funds on choosing essential supplemental services their students.

Also, the Act places strong emphasis on informing parents about the performance of students, schools, and school districts (Barret 1020). Thus, learning institutions commit themselves to furnishing the parents with relevant performance information at different levels. Specifically, they provide parents and guardians with report cards at the end of each year. These contain vital information pertaining to the performance of both students and institutions. This transparency enhances objective decision making by parents and other stakeholders. Providing them with this information also gives them an opportunity to participate actively in school governance through provision of necessary feedback. Intrinsic social inclusion is sustainable and allows parents to commit themselves to monitoring the academic performance of both the students and the learning institutions.

 With respect to high competencies, the instructors need to be fully certified by their respective states or need to have undertaken the teacher licensure examination and passed accordingly (Peterson and West 36). In addition, these professionals need to have licenses that allow them to teach in the particular states. The educators need to be conversant with the contents of the subjects that they teach. They are required to be knowledgeable about the disciplines and demonstrate their abilities through test scores or certain credentials. With regard to helping students from low income families, the law requires states to take practical measures in ensuring that this facet of the learning community is not taught by instructors whose competencies are low (Meier and Wood 68).

Further, the Act postulates that parents have a right to know and understand the qualifications of teachers that handle their students at different level. To a great extent, this contributes to accountability by both parents and instructions. Vital information that parents access in this respect include the state of licensure, experience, and academic qualifications of the teacher (Dworkin 173). In instances where the child receives education from paraprofessionals, the parent has the right to know too.  Likewise, this assists in objective decision making by parents and accountability by learning institutions.

The Act provides deserving institutions with funds to improve the quality of the teachers. These funds are also used for increasing the number of highly qualified staffs in the learning institutions. Specifically, they finance projects that aim at improving teacher quality and competitiveness. In this regard, the main objective is to ensure that teachers have sufficient skills and knowledge that enable them to deliver quality results. Using these resources, relevant stakeholders provide viable incentives for teachers and initiate performance based compensation systems (McGuin 69). In addition, the funds cater for alternative teacher programs that provide optional education to for students in failing institutions. Also, the Act provides sufficient resources to cater for technological improvements in the learning institutions. Undoubtedly, it appreciates that technological knowhow plays an instrumental role in improving the process of learning.

From the point of view of this legislation, English literacy is an important aspect of learning especially because English language is the sole mode of communication. Provision of these resources was informed by the recognition that the nation is experiencing a burgeoning growth of English language learner communities (Wright, Wright and Heath 91). Further, the law commits itself to funding for community learning centers program. In this regard, the states provide competitive local providers with sufficient resources to offer after school learning programs. These range from school districts to community based institutions and faith-based groups. Then, the Act recognizes that the current society struggles with the problem of drug use and abuse. Just like other facets of the populations, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds experience relative challenges. In fact, emergent research ascertains that they are more vulnerable and tend to assume the malpractices faster than their counterparts from affluent backgrounds (Zimmer, Hamilton and Christina 27). The funds support institutional programs that are geared towards preventing violence, creating safe learning environments, preventing and curbing drug use and abuse, and nurturing virtuous behavior.

Certainly, it cannot be disputed that the goals and objectives of this legislation are worthwhile. Indeed, the fact that education is an important aspect that contributes positively to the wellbeing of the society cannot be overstated. As aforementioned, the federal government, through this legislation, contributes significantly to enhancing the capacities of its population. Essentially, education has direct effects on the attitudes and behaviors of the affected population. Besides enhancing peaceful co-existence, education improves the competitiveness of a given populace. By investing in the capacities of its citizens through this Act, America succeeds in enhancing its productivity in different ways. Institution of this legislation has varied implications on the students, teachers, and other facets of the education system.

Implications of the Legislation

The policy pertaining to test based accountability influences teachers to focus on the aspects of tested content as well as skills. Thus, they place particular emphasize on tested disciplines and allocate a significant percentage of instructional time to them. In addition, they narrow the course contents of these disciplines to examinable aspects only (Abedi 11). This has detrimental effects on the scope of knowledge that students receive in the long run. The characteristic specialization prevents them from receiving fundamental knowledge that they require at this level. From a critical point of view, they tend to neglect non tested areas or subjects. Ultimately, this compromises the value of education that students receive.  Conversely, the narrowing has positive effects on the testable components of the curriculum in that it gives students an opportunity to focus on important areas only. This accords them more time for specialization and enhances their overall performance in the selected fields.

This policy has led to the development and improvement of teacher competencies too. In this respect, statistical evidence ascertains that since its enactment, teachers have taken practical measure to acquire quality education (Kahlenberg 66). Currently, a significant percentage of educators are holders of master’s degrees in their areas of specification. This is beneficial because it enables them to provide quality services to the students. Improving their competencies allows them to teach effectively and boost performance. Seemingly, this has positive implications on their rates of compensations. The rewards that they receive for outstanding performance are comparatively more than those that they get for failing grades. Certainly, the financial incentives in the sector contribute significantly to enhancement of teacher competencies. Most importantly, improved competencies contribute to a desirable state of job satisfaction. This enhances the commitment of the teachers to their professions and promotes executive functioning.

The impact of the policy on classroom sizes and student teacher ratios is apparent in recent studies (Primont and Domazlicky 79). In order to attain and sustain effective performance, teachers prefer fewer students. This culminates in reduction of classroom sizes in order to allow for identification and resolution of the individual problems of students. Generally, teachers find it easy to handle fewer students because they can understand their needs easily.

From an economic point of view, McGuinn argues that implementation of this legislation has led to increased institutional expenditures (Mcguinn 86). In this respect, schools and school districts are compelled to allocate more resources on programs that seek to enhance academic performance of students. The changes of spending patterns automatically culminate in to an increase of expenditures in this sector. Specifically, more resources are currently being allocated to support services and direct instruction. Further, teacher development programs including desirable financial incentives contribute directly to increased costs. Since students from poor backgrounds lack sufficient resources, they do not make significant financial contributions to their education. Most of the costs that are related to their education are solely borne by the learning institutions and this explains why the expenditures in the respective institutions keep rising (Mcguinn 87).

According to Yell and Drasgow, this law has had positive impacts on the institutions’ instructional design (Yell and Drasgow 73). In this regard, schools currently appreciate the importance of diagnostic assessments to improving student performance. Besides improving the technical assistance that institutions receive, it enhances their professional development. The results of the respective tests allow educators to focus on the areas that students experience difficulties. Using these results, teachers are able to test their abilities and address their performance concerns accordingly. As indicated earlier, the law advocates for accountability by students, institutions, parents, and teachers. This provision compels teachers to devise effective teaching approaches at all times. Notably, accountability causes teachers to base their decisions on factual data and previous outcomes. By using these figures during instruction, they enhance objectives and improve the credibility of the entire system of education.

In his consultative research, Paul establishes that the institution of this law has increased the participation of minority populations in education (Paul 651). In this respect, statistics show that the enrollment rates of racial students increased significantly after the implementation of the policies. Although their performances remain lower than those of their White counterparts, they still benefit significantly from the opportunities that the policy presents. The social benefits that accrue from this trend are wide and varied. Fundamentally, social studies associate minority populations with social ills such as crime (Meier and Wood 65). Their active participation in the education sector has beneficial effects on societal functioning. Besides enhancing peaceful coexistence, they engage in productive activities upon completion of their education.

Admittedly, the Act has led to nurturance and development of a desirable culture that is consistent with the national values and virtues (Zimmer et al 91). In this respect, the programs focus on instilling important social and cultural values in the students. These enable them to develop a sense of loyalty and refrain from social ills such as drug use and abuse. The education system that the legislation advocates for is idyllic and effective for fostering sustainable growth and development. By emphasizing more on attainment of skills and expertise that is highly sought after by employees, the NCLB policy contributes to enhancement of societal functioning. In addition, it develops the skills of students and allows them to explore the opportunities that the society presents. Also,Constant career development by educators boosts the quality of education at both the state and national levels.


The NCLB Act focuses on helping students from poor economic backgrounds to enjoy the privileges of quality education. Since its inception, the Act has undergone various reauthorizations in an effort to address the complex and emergent needs of the target population. Currently, it focusses on accountability, testing, teacher improvement, exploitation of technological advancements, and so forth. The Act requires teachers to perform exemplarily and competently at all times. In addition, it holds institutions responsible for the performance of students. It requires learning institutions to maintain an upward trend with regards to attaining the highest levels of proficiencies in both testable and non-testable subjects. Institutions that do not meet its requirements with respect to improving student proficiencies finally undergo restructuring.

Notably, this law has various implications on the students, teachers, and the education sector at large. Generally, it allows students to focus on specific areas that are mostly testable. Specialization at this stage of their education improves performance and culminates in inclusion of students from poor backgrounds in the national education system. This bridges the gaps that inequality creates and allows them to share in the national resources. Indirectly, it addresses various social problems that relate to low literacy levels. The legislation compels educators to improve their skills too. Resultantly, they provide quality education to the students and hence enable them to remain competitive. Economically, this policy has increased institutional expenditures in order to cater for the broadening needs of its programs.

Works Cited: Annotated Bibliography

Abedi Jamal. The No Child Left Behind Act and English language learners: Assessment and accountability issues. Educational Researcher, 33.1 (2004): 4-14. Print.

This study indicates that students with limited English proficiency are unlikely to meet the standards that are established by the NCLB policy. Thus, institutions with higher numbers of such students perform poorly than their counterparts.

Abernathy Scott.  No Child Left behind and the Public Schools. Michigan: University Press, 2007. Print.

In this study, the author begins by providing a detailed review of the No Child Left Behind Policy and proceeds to criticizing the it by citing its apparent strengths and weaknesses. Accordingly, he explores the successes as well as failures of the policy with regard to meeting educational objectives.

Armaline William and Levy Donald. No Child Left Behind: flowers don’t grow in the desert. Race and Society, 7.1 (2004), 32-62. Print.

In this study, the authors hypothesize that the purpose of the NCLB legislation is to bridge gaps between the standards of education of White students and their minority counterparts. Besides discussing the construction and dominance of the legislation, they highlight the experiences of teachers with the law.

Barret Brian. No Child Left Behind and the assault on teachers’ professional practices and identities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25.8 (2009): 1018-1025. Print.

The author of this study affirms that the legislation has direct implications on the performance of teachers. According to him, it impacts on the identities as well as professional practices of the instructors. He highlights that there are notable inconsistencies between the abilities of teachers and the expectations of the policy.

Booker Kevin, Gilpatric Scott, Gronberg Timothy and Jansen Dennis. The effect of charter schools on traditional public school students in Texas: Are children who stay behind left behind? Journal of Urban Economics, 64.1 (2008): 123-145. Print.

Dworkin Gary. The No Child Left Behind Act: Accountability, high stakes testing and the roles for sociologists. Sociology of Education, 78.2 (2005): 170-174.  Print.

This study explores the effects of testing procedures on the students and performance of learning institutions. They find out that accountability requirements influence performance in different ways.

Hess Frederick and Petrilli Michael.No Child Left Behind Primer. USA: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2007. Print.

The authors agree that the No Child Left Behind legislation greatly influences the American system of education. They explore the purpose of this Act and affirm that is it consistent with the provisions of other educational policies. In particular, they indicate that the policy sets ideal standards for assessing student performance, provides options for students stuck in ineffective learning institutions, and ensures that teachers commit to providing quality education at all times.

Jones Gail, Jones Brett and Hargrove Tracy.The unintended consequences of high stakes testing. USA: Rowman& Littlefield Publishers, 2003. Print.

In this research, the authors argue that as one of the features of the No Student Left Behind policy, high stake testing impacts significantly on the process of learning and teaching. Using interviews and researches, they evaluate the perspectives of students as well as teachers on the practice.

Kahlenberg Richard. Improving on No child Left behind: Getting education reform back on track. USA: Century Foundation Press, 2008. Print.

This study evaluates the problems that surround the major provisions of the legislation. According to them, aspects pertaining to testing, giving students a chance to move leave failing institutions, accountability, and funding raise various controversies. They explore the disadvantages of each of the weaknesses and how it compromises quality education

Kreig John. Which students are left behind? The Racial impacts of the No Child Left behind Act. Economics of Education Review, 30.4 (2011): 654-664. Print.

Using various samples, this study postulates that the provisions of the legislation disadvantage students from racial backgrounds.

Linn Robert, Baker Eva and Betebenner Damian. Accountability systems: Implications of requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2011. Educational Researcher, 31.6 (2002): 3-16. Print.

This study establishes that since the establishment of the No Child Left Behind Policy, the response of learning institutions vary from state to state.

McGuinn Patrick. No child left behind and the transformation of federal education policy, 1965-2005. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2006. Print.

McGuinn offers a balanced and in-depth evaluation of the formulation and development of the NCLB policy. He cites that the law overcame resistance from both the economic and political spheres. He focuses on the political context of the policy and brings to the fore the various controversies that surrounded its implementation. He confirms that the federal government influences decisions that are made in the education sector directly.

Meier Deborah and Wood George.Many children left behind: how the No Child Left behind Act is damaging our children and our schools. New York: Beacon Press, 2004. Print.

The authors argue that the legislation compromises the standards of education that the American child receives. According to them, the No Student Left Behind (NSLB) policy underfunds learning institutions and prevents them from achieving important goals. They evaluate the negative consequences of undue emphasis on the mandated tests.

Paul Glenn. The train has left: The No Child left Behind Act leaves Black and Latino literacy learners waiting at the stage. Journal of adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47.8 (2004): 648-656. Print.

The author affirms that literacy levels have direct effects on the performance of learners. The study reveals that low level of literacy amongst Black and Latino students contribute to their failing trend.

Peterson Paul and West Martin.No Child Left Behind? The politics and practice of school accountability. USA: Brookings Institution Press, 2003.  Print.

In this review, Peterson and Martin explore the concept of the NCLB legislation and highlight the stages of its formulation. Further, they proceed to evaluating the impacts of the Act to the current education system. Then, they analyze anticipated or future implications of the legislation.

Primont Diane and Domazlicky Bruce.Student achievement and efficiency in Missouri schools and the No Child Left behind Act.Economics of Education Review, 25.1 (2006): pp. 77-90. Print.

Sharon Nichols, Gene Glass and David Berliner. High stakes testing and student achievement: Problems for the No Child Left Behind Act. Education Policy Research Unit, (2005): 225

The review explores the complications that are associated with high stakes testing and the effects that these have on the academic performance of students. It indicates that as one of its features, the implications of the sanctions to failing schools are diverse.

Wright Peter, Wright Pamela and Heath Suzanne.No Child Left Behind. New York: Habor House Law Press, 2003. Print.

In this study, the authors provide a detailed evaluation of the No Child Left Behind Legislation. They explain its main aspects including the role of competent staff, the ability of students to transfer from non-performing or dangerous learning institutions, the availability of free tutoring, and teacher liability protection amongst others.

Yell Mitchell and Drasgow Erik. No Child Left Behind: A guide for professionals. New York: Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

In this review, Yell and Drasgow provide a thorough examination of the policy including the diverse effects that it has on the American public education. Their descriptions cover the legal structure of the Act as well as a succinct summary of its main principles. The authors evaluate the implications of this legislation to various stakeholders such as principles, students, school administrators, and pre-service teachers.

Zimmer Ron, Hamilton Laura and Christina Rachel. After school tutoring in the context of No Child Left behind: Effectiveness of two programs in the Pittsburgh public schools. Economics of Education Review, 29.1 (2010):18-28. Print.

In this research, the authors recognize that the NCLB legislation requires school districts to exhibit high level accountability with regards to performance. For this reason, they indicate that schools take various measures to meet the established goals and objectives. Those that fail to attain the set standards face different challenges including loss of students. They explore the tutoring programs adopted by the Pittsburgh Public Schools.