Academic journal article Education

No Child Left Behind: What We Know and What We Need to Know

Academic journal article Education

No Child Left Behind: What We Know and What We Need to Know

Article excerpt


The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reform aims to hold educational agencies and states accountable for improving the quality of education for all students. It seeks to identify and transform low-performing schools that have failed to provide a high quality education to their students into successful schools. Furthermore, the accountability provisions in NCLB intend to close the achievement gap between high and low achieving students and especially the achievement gaps between minority and non-minority students along with the advantaged and disadvantaged students. The reform seeks to accomplish this goal using state assessment systems that are designed to ensure that students are meeting state academic and grade level content expectations (NCLB, 2002, section 101).

The implementation of the NCLB goals calls for high-level standards that are measurable for all students. There is no doubt that NCLB has provided for an increased focus on student populations that have traditionally performed at low levels (Borowski & Sneed, 2006; Guilfoyle, 2006; Haycock, 2006; Hess, 2006; Hess & Petrelli, 2006; Kane, et al. 2002; Lewis, 2006) however, there are some faults with the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as to whether or not AYP will be able to provide an accurate measurement of the goals that are stated in the Title One purpose statement of the NCLB legislation. Some of those faults include states being allowed to develop their own standards, test score proficiency levels, and statistical measurement formulas under AYP (Harris, 2007; Olson & Jacobson, 2006; Popham, 2005a; Porter, Linn, & Trimble, 2005; Wiley, Mathis, & Garcia, 2005). Cronin, Dahlin, Adkins, and Kingsbury (2007) found that fifty different educational measurement standards are implemented across the United States.

With almost a decade into the reform, NCLB is a large and complex piece of legislation that elicits a focus on public school education. Drawing from empirically based and theoretical literature in the field, this review examines AYP and the accountability provisions found in Title One of the NCLB legislation. States have the ability to statistically manipulate their AYP implementation, which may give a false impression to the public that AYP is a consistent measure of school effectiveness across the country. The first section identifies the measurement concerns with the implementation of AYP (Harris, 2007; Olson & Jacobson, 2006; Popham, 2005a; Porter, et al., 2005; Wiley, et al., 2005). The second section deals with the benefits of AYP and the unintended consequences (Borowski & Sneed, 2006; Guilfoyle, 2006; Haycock, 2006; Hess, 2006; Hess & Petrelli, 2006; Kane, et al. 2002; Lewis, 2006). The review also analyzes the complexities involved with establishing school accountability and the effective and ineffective provisions of the NCLB reform. Finally, this paper concludes with recommendations for research for policymakers and educators alike who are interested in sustainable reform.

Measurement Concerns with the Use of AYP to Evaluate School Effectiveness

Statistical Issues, Manipulations of the AYP data, and Lack of Consistency across the Country

There are a number of problems associated with the usage of the current AYP formula in order to measure and evaluate school effectiveness. The first problem area concerns the manner in which the statistical manipulations are occurring with the implementation of AYP across the country. Borowski and Sneed (2006) conclude that the manner in which AYP is determined is arbitrary in nature. States have the ability to lower standards and manipulate statistical measures of AYP that may result in the lack of improvement in instruction.

Porter et al. (2005) found that states exercise flexibility in implementing achievement tests and this consequentially impacts whether or not schools or school districts make AYE They focus on three specific areas of measurement that have a major impact on AYE Those areas include: the line of trajectory that states establish en route to a 100% proficiency rate by the year 2014, the minimum number of students that are necessary in order for there to be a subgroup population that will count for AYP purposes, and whether or not the state uses a confidence interval along with how wide the confidence interval is in determining if schools or districts reach the proficiency targets that are required under AYP. …

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