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The No Child Left Behind Act, or the NCLB, is a United States Act of Congress. Introduced in 2001, it requires schools in all states to assess students in certain grades, if the state is receiving federal state funding. Throughout Congress the bill received wide support and was subsequently passed in May 2001 by the House of Representatives and in June 2001 by the United States Senate.
The Act has helped improve educational standards across the US. Young children have been making far more progress than previously in both numeracy and literacy. The Act has also narrowed the gap between the achievement levels of white and black students.
In particular, scores in reading and math have shot up for black and Hispanic children. The difference in levels of achievement between white and black children has been a cause for concern for many years in America, and the No Child Left Behind Act has certainly helped the situation.
The standards of the Act have helped to remedy situations in which local schools having been continuously failing students. Teachers have not been teaching effectively, particularly outside their subject area, and there has been a 'laissez-faire' attitude to schools in which standards are slipping. The Act has improved many schools by giving them guidelines to focus their efforts around.
In addition to this, the No Child Left Behind Act has increased the accountability of schools and local governments. Schools are required to pass annual tests to assess how effectively they have taught their students. If they were to perform badly in these tests, parents may choose to send their children to other schools that have achieved higher standards. All students must have the option to move schools if their current school fails the test continuously. Schools are no longer able to get away with providing a poor education.
Congress has backed massive increases in funding for secondary education after the enactment. This includes funding for schemes that improve reading and writing, in addition to funding for new technology in the classroom. The No Child Left Behind Act also provides local governments with more flexibility to spend money in the way that they think is best. Passing down powers such as this gives local government more control over their schools, making them more successful.
However, the Act may encourage schools to manipulate test scores, and set low targets rather than high ones in order to ensure they are fulfilled. It may also give students a less broad education, if schools limit what they teach to what they know is on the exam syllabus. Aspects such as these can impact negatively on education if schools focus too much about their performance rather than their pupils'.
In conclusion, the Act has had a very positive effect on the U.S. educational system as a whole. General standards across all states have been raised, and more money is now available for institutions to spend on resources that will help educate their students.