Defining the Problem: Unlike most categories measured on a global scale, the United States does not rank in the top ten countries when it comes to public education. This trend is not a new trend. The US has fluctuated up and down on its educational output depending on the President and if he made any attempt to reform the public education system. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in order to try and standardize schools across the country in hopes of closing the education gap between students in various states, social classes, and races. President Bush then signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002, which did not take away from the purpose of ESEA, but rather acted like a caveat to it.
This new legislation was intended to improve the quality of public education by requiring schools to improve their performance. It was deemed that a schools performance would be based on the usage of standardized tests that were administered to children in certain grades. The tests focus primarily on the subjects of reading, writing, and mathematics. These areas were deemed to be related to economic success by government officials. The progress made by the schools would then determine the amount of funding allocated to the institution from the federal government. As the evidence of the NCLB’s unintended consequences merges, it seems increasingly clear that, despite its good intentions and admirable goals, NCLB as currently implemented is more likely to harm than to help most of the students who are the target of aspirations, and it is more likely to undermine (some would even say destroy) the nation’s public education system than to improve it (Meier, 2004).
The federal government determined that schools are only allowed so many opportunities to improve their test scores or risk the loss of funding. This approach seems illogical for several reasons. First, if a school is showing difficulty in educating their students, it would be unreasonable to take money away from the school as that would almost certainly lead to a further decline in the school’s academic performance. If anything, a school that a shows a trend of receding scores should be revaluated to determine if more funding is necessary in order to influence the students more effectively. With regards to funding, the amount of funds set aside by the government not only fluctuates year to year (meaning schools may receive different amounts of assistance even if they show progression), but the government has yet to exhaust the allocated amount in any year since the Act was signed into law (Wright, 2004).
Secondly, the federal government has provided no guidance when it comes to setting the standards for the tests. That is left to the state government. The Act does also not offer any assistance on how to raise the level of academia if a school is shown to not meeting the standard. Therefore, there is no uniformity across the nation,...