Review of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) – implications

Implications 1

            Does the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) have any implications on family partnership and empowerment? The No child Left Behind Act of 2001 provides for increased family and parental involvement in the development, implementation and evaluation of educational policies and programs. The enhanced participation of families, particularly parents, in the education of their children has various implications on family partnership and empowerment. First, the involvement of parents enhances the performance of students in school as has been reported in various studies (Tveit, 2009; Hindin, 2010; Grace, Jethro & Aina, 2012; McMahon, 2009; Wyrick & Rudasill, 2009). This arises because parents play an important role in influencing the education of their children. Generally, education effectiveness requires the partnerships of various stakeholders such as students, teachers, administrators and parents. If a student fails to get the support and input of any of these, they often end up performing poorly. Parents’ roles in the education of their children include offering motivation and other necessary (e.g. financial) support that enhance the education environment for their children. By performing roles such as assisting with homework, attending meetings in school, identifying the educational needs of the children and evaluating their performance, parents provide the needed motivation to enhance their children’s academic performance (Evans, 2011; Tveit, 2009; Hindin, 2010; Grace, Jethro & Aina, 2012; McMahon, 2009; Wyrick & Rudasill, 2009). By enabling parent involvement, NCLB thus indirect boosts the academic performance of the students.

Parent involvement also enhances the relationship between teachers and students which is critical for effective education and better academic performance of children. Parental involvement has been found to enhance the link between teachers and students through providing a better understanding of the unique characteristics and needs of students (Wyrick & Rudasill, 2009). Because parents spend considerable time with the children at home, they may have more insight into the needs of their children. By cooperating with teachers, they pass this information on so that the students’ needs are well catered for even at school. Additionally, when students see the close relationship and interaction between their parents and teachers, they develop a sense of importance of education since they consider their parents and teachers to be role models (Wyrick & Rudasill, 2009).

On the other hand, the increased involvement and participation of parents in the education of their children has had some negative implications. According to Evans (2011), there exist tensions between parents and teachers mainly because of conflicting interests. Whereas teachers are concerned about the general educational performance of all students, parents are more concerned about the educational performance of their own children. This implies that increased parental involvement in education could result into increased teacher-parent conflicts, thus demotivate the teachers from performing their roles effectively.

Implications 2

            Does the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) have any implications on the support for vulnerable families? The Act has positive implications on the support for vulnerable families. It provides support to minority groups and families such as rural families with limited access to educational resources, families with disabled children, illiterate families and families with low English proficiency. Such support of the minority groups has been found to enhance their access to education (Gruenewald, 2007). It has also enhanced their academic performance by providing appropriate programs and facilities. The Act thus fosters enrollment of children from vulnerable families into schools. Additionally, the Act has reduced inequality and oppression that such vulnerable families and children experience in the education system. For example, more girls are able to go to school despite their vulnerability to early pregnancies. The proportion of students with disabilities graduating yearly has also increased, an aspect that could have been a result of the support offered through NCLB’s provisions (Schifter, 2011).

However, the Act also discriminates against such minority groups. By providing special attention and treatment to these vulnerable families and children, the Act implies that they are incapable of performing as well as the well-off families (Kyung Eun, 2011). While this could be wrong in some cases, it is also right in others. For example, physical disability does not mean that children with such disabilities cannot perform academically well as normal students. Additionally, some girls do perform better than boys in mathematics and sciences. By providing for the unique needs of these minority groups and vulnerable families, the Act thus passes a blanket condemnation on them that they are lesser families and individuals than their counterparts (Kyung Eun, 2011).

The NCLBA also imposes unfair treatment of minority groups such as people with disabilities. Although there are provisions for the special needs of students with disabilities, the Act also includes them in standard assessment for the state referred to as adequate yearly progress. The main goal of this annual accountability system is to ensure that all students, irrespective of their differences are able to attain standard levels of educational achievement (Apling & Jones, 2004). This contradicts the provisions that seek to help such minority groups to access quality education.

Finally, the NCLBA requires that all students be tested in Math within their states. For immigrant students or ESL (English as Second Language) learners, this has had a negative impact because it does not offer them fair treatment. The tests are set in Standard English, which places the ESL students at a disadvantage compared to native English speakers (Wright & Li, 2008; Lee, 2010). Often, these non-native English students perform poorly, not because they do not know math, but because they do not understand English which is the language used in the tests. As a result, such students and their schools face sanctions for failing to meet the set state standards to receive funding.

Implications 3

            Does the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) have any implications on supplementing parents’ and other family members’ ability to carry out their responsibilities? The Act has provided significant support to supplement the ability of parents and families to carry out their responsibilities for their children’s education. Due to the funding of various education programs, parents’ burden to pay high school fees for their children reduces. Accordingly more families will access education leading to a literate and educated society (Jones, 2011).

Through the funding of counseling programs in schools, families’ well-being will be enhanced. Counseling is an effective measure for addressing psychological problems that families encounter often. Studies have shown that effective counseling helps enhance emotional-wellbeing of students in schools, thus enhance their concentration and academic performance (Cooper et al., 2010). Teachers play a critical role in the daily lives of students; their training and provision with necessary resources to manage student emotional problems would be effective in promoting the emotional well-being of the students (McLaughlin, 2008; Suldo et al., 2009). Accordingly, by make provisions for such training and resources, the NCLB is mindful of children’s well-being hence the well-being of their families.

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