No Child Left Behind's Missing Ingredient
It has long been suspected that states were lowering standards in order to show the necessary gains in reading and math scores to remain in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act. Since the states get to define proficiency and then have federal funds tied to meeting that goal, is that any surprise? One thing is certain: No Child Left Behind has changed the face of education in America. Despite its tenets for local control, the level of federal control over local school districts has reached an unprecedented level.
Under No Child Left Behind, individual schools and school districts can be punished for repeatedly failing to meet the federal standards, including restructuring schools and possibly closing them in extreme cases. SFGate
The central government, which has no constitutional authority over education, can close a local school for failure to meet its standards, determined primarily by scores on standardized tests. There is more pressure to perform than ever before. But is it working? Some interesting research is coming out that indicates that the state of education in America today is no different than it was prior to this act. A Berkely report scheduled to be released Wednesday and a Harvard study reach similar conclusions.
The Harvard study suggested that the act was not accomplishing its goals. A summary of the study concluded that "the national average achievement remains flat in reading and grows at the same pace in math after NCLB than before." Like the Berkeley report, it based its conclusions on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. LA Times
For all its accountability and research based techniques, No Child Left Behind has had little effect on the actual outcomes it strives to meet. Why? Because it is missing the key ingredient. In fact, if this one ingredient were present, the rest would not be needed. Parents.
Maybe that means you give up some personal time. Maybe it means that Johnny’s in one sport instead of two. If you’re a single parent, it may mean reaching out for help from a neighbor, relative or someone else who will support you. If you have a special needs child, assess your physical limits and find ways to fill in the gaps without sacrificing "learning time" with your child. Then take another step—a hard one. Look inside yourself. Honestly ask yourself if your actions model what you want your child to be and do. It’s not about you; it’s about your child and what type of adult he or she will become. (This article is well-worth reading in its entirety.)
If parents had not stepped out of the lives of their children, we would not need education reform. The single greatest factor indicating school success is parental involvement. The socio-economic status of the family, teacher pay, teacher training, classroom equipment, curriculum are all secondary. If the parents are involved, these barriers seem to disappear. Education is not just the right of the parent. It is the responsibility of the parent.

, , , ,