COMMENTARY | According to an article in the Huffington Post, a national report put out Thursday revealed that half of the public schools in America are behind since the No Child Left Behind law that was implemented 10 years ago. The Center on Education report declares that 48 percent of schools, which translates to 43,000 schools, did not make Adequate Yearly Progress this year. The No Child Left Behind Law, which demands that every student be proficient in his/her grade level in math and reading, sets common standards that are unrealistic for nearly every school and allows many students to slip through the cracks in education.
As a pre-service teacher, I can attest that the No Child Left Behind law is virtually ineffective and damaging. This law, that has common standards for reading and math, applies to all students — that includes special education students as well. While I support encouraging student achievement, you cannot hold every child to the same standards. My sister is mentally handicapped and cannot read or write but under the No Child Left Behind law, she is supposed to be able to read on a 10th grade level when she is 16. That is never going to happen and unfortunately, this is the case for many special education students.
As a result of No Child Left Behind, many schools rightfully do not meet AYP and in the next few years, there is going to be a higher accountability for teachers and schools. The federal funding will be cut, teacher evaluations and merit pay will be affected, and in a lot of the cases with the schools that do meet AYP, there is a lot of embellishment with the progress of special education students.
I have seen first-hand instances when a special education student who suffers from cerebral palsy was passed along and her progress reports were embellished. She could neither comprehend nor do the work load for her grade level but instead of keeping her behind a year and working on her skills, she was passed and her progress was misrepresented, so the school could make AYP.
The problem inherent with the No Child Left Behind law is the common standards and expectations it sets. Consequently, schools and students will be the ones who suffer when they fail to meet unrealistic and flawed demands.