Educators are no longer conveyors of information (Eastman, 2006). Likewise, student roles have changed. Since the implementation of NCLB, teacher success and failure is based on student achievement, which gives students a certain power over educators. Educators are unmoving in the concept of expertise on subject material and educational issues. Parents are confident in the belief that they are the experts when it comes to their children. The ensuing power struggle undermines the purpose of education, which is preparing students for the future (Eastman, 2006). Wong (2008) explained students whose parents promote autonomy have higher test scores than those whose parents who do not promote autonomy. The power struggle between parents and educators occurs in response to imaginary circumstances.
Flowers (2007) observed factors of importance to raising standardized test scores include building safety, test preparation, access to computers, availability of after-school programs, and comparison groups. Educators will be better able to prepare parents to assist students outside of school. Better prepared educators and parents will promote better parent and teacher relationships. When parents value education, students will value education.
Purpose of the NCLB Bill
Boggs, Szabo, and Page (2009) defined NCLB as the solution to low test scores. NCLB, in theory, will identify low-achieving schools through standardized testing, and implement penalties for schools that do not meet required progress (Scott, 2009). Lagana-Riordan and Aguilar (2009) even posited standardized testing is an attempt by the United States to remain in competition with European and Asia countries economically.
Hodge and Krumm (2009) list “six basic principles: (a) accountability, (b) highly qualified teachers, (c) scientifically based instruction, (d) local flexibility, (e) safe schools, and (f) parent participation and choice” (p. 20). The principles of NCLB are monitored through high-stakes assessments (Duffy, Giordano, Farrell, Paneque, & Crimp, 2008). While systematic testing allows for long term tracking of progress, some believe testing ignores too many factors to be an indicator of success or failure of any of the six principles.
Duffy, Giordano, Farrell, Paneque, and Crump (2008) posited standardized testing is a way to evaluate schools based on the outcomes of tests taken by students. Duffy et al. contended the unintended consequences undermine the potential benefits that such legislation is intended to invoke. Many educators agree with the premise of quantitative evaluation. However, when jobs depend upon results, graduation becomes a possibility only upon successful completion of tests, and school funding is so heavily dependent upon results, legitimate learning is called into question (Duffy, Giordano, Farrell, Paneque, and Crump, 2008). More recently, researchers and educational experts are attempting to devise more reliable methods of evaluating educational facilities, professionals, programs, and students (Betebenner, 2009).
According to Thornton, Hill, and Usinger (2006), NCLB is an attempt to give everyone an equal education. Bippus (2005) argues that educators should not be alone in the responsibility for students. According to Bippus, parents and students must be held accountable for student success as well.
Teacher accountability. Teacher accountability is a guarantee by the government to ensure teacher quality (Scott, 2009). Teachers who are not willing to meet government required guidelines, or are unable to meet state prescribed guidelines, will be replaced by schools. Scott (2009) described situations where faculty members have been replaced in underachieving schools. Some researchers argue holding teachers accountable for underperforming students ignores too many factors to be realistic. In fact, Berliner (2010) argued that NCLB is not likely to ever be successful based on the high demands and responsibility it places on educators. Berliner argued that poverty, poor health care, pollution, and violence cause much of the problem with at-risk students, which educators cannot affect. Roellke and Rice (2008) argued many quality teachers leave the areas where they are most needed, or leave the teaching profession entirely, due to the stress attached to matters beyond their control.
Student accountability. While student test scores contribute to high levels of accountability for educators, schools, and to some extent parents (Scott, 2009), little evidence exists that students are held accountable for their actions, behaviors, or contributions. When students do not face repercussions for their actions, yet have extended control over educators and parents, there is little incentive for their success or effort. In addition, Kohn (2009) described the testing situation as promoting superficial thinking, and penalizing active thinking. Since education is meant to promote learning, standardized testing appears to negatively affect the learning process.
Parent accountability. According to the United States Department of Education (2004), parent accountability is specifically addressed in Title I, Section 1118. Schools must provide for parental involvement policy if they receive federal Title I funds (NCLB Action Brief, 2010). However, the NCLB Action Brief acknowledged there are no penalties for non-compliance. Although Section 1118 commits to a definition of parental involvement, NCLB Action Brief declared that differing perceptions of the definition can cause problems in the implementation of parental involvement policy.
Pros and Cons of the Bill
Lagana-Riordan and Aguilar (2009) asserted one goal of NCLB is to ensure an equal opportunity for all students to acquire a high quality education, regardless of race, heritage, or economic status. Although Lagana-Riordan and Aguilar agreed that improving education is a noble effort, they argued that too much emphasis has been placed on ecological perspective, and factors outside the school are getting too little consideration. Conzemius (2010) agreed that NCLB has had the positive effect of bringing failing schools to the public’s attention; however, Conzemius posited states are more likely lowering expectations in the failed attempt to raise achievement.
Although the mandate’s attempt to standardize education, and make sure that all students are afforded a quality education is noble, Gay (2007) argued that a tremendous hurdle has been dealing with special education students and English language learners. These, among others, are the very groups who are supposed to benefit from the legislation; however, they are the groups most likely to be hurt by the bill’s implementation.
There is simply too much emphasis on standardized testing (Ballard & Bates, 2008). Norm referenced tests compare each student to all other students taking the test. While norm referenced tests are useful in some ways, they do not take individual differences between students into account; therefore, are not valid indicators of student learning. Criterion referenced tests are they types of tests that identify whether or not students have learned the material that is taught (Meyers, 2008). Since not all teachers teach the same material in the same manner, criterion tests are not likely to show up in standardized state assessments. Betebenner (2009) contended the emphasis for schools to reach annual yearly progress (AYP) is forcing schools to ignore many of the pieces of the NCLB legislation that could help students grow, and focus instead on accountability. In other words, educators are forced to teach to the test in order to reach AYP, and satisfy accountability measures. Learning and assessment are less connected in the age of high-stakes testing.
One of the drawbacks of the restructuring system of NCLB is the fact that states have different systems for determining accountability of schools and teachers (Scott, 2009). Scott concluded that the federal system for restructuring is inconsistent, and ineffective. For this reason, many states are opting out of the federal restructuring plan, and replacing the federal plan with altered versions of their own. Some argue improvement efforts on a federal level take too much sovereignty from local schools (Gratz, 2009). However, Scott argued the policy encourages local schools to adapt their restructuring programs to the needs of the local community. In addition, schools complain there is not enough time to implement restructuring programs, and staff replacement is more difficult than anticipated, funding falls short of providing schools with the resources necessary to implement required changes.
Students with high instances of parental involvement have better grades and higher test scores (Houtenville & Conway, 2008; LaBahn, 1995; Lee & Green, 2009). Many factors contribute to the involvement of parents in students’ educational pursuits. Kreider, Caspe, Kennedy, and Weiss (2007) pointed out parenting values, home-school relationships, and mutual responsibility are the most important considerations surrounding parental involvement. Some parents perceive educators as opposing forces to already strained relationships between parent and student; some parents see involvement as the way to maintain relationships with children. Educators sometimes detect a sense of opposition from parents as well. Educators perceive themselves as the experts and feel parents should not attempt to interfere with the educational process. With no clear definition to the characteristic of involvement, educators and parents have a difficult time determining the appropriate action to take.
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