The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law has had a significant impact on the K-12 education programs in America since it came into effect in 2002. However, the NCLB’s tenure ended when President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on December 10, 2015. Unlike its predecessor, the new K-12 education law received strong bipartisan support in Congress. For critics of the No Child Left Behind law, a new education law was long overdue.
Overhauling the System, Not the Child
From the beginning, NCLB was highly controversial for several reasons. Firstly, it penalized schools that did not record improvements in student performance. In addition, it was based on a one-size-fits-all approach that overemphasized testing. Even President Obama admitted as much when signing the new law.
The new law departs from the one-size-fits-all approach by allowing states to develop their own education quality judging/evaluating standards and systems. However, this does not mean states have unbridled freedom in managing the learning process. Students will still have to take math and reading tests annually from grade three through eight and once in high school. This is mandatory throughout the entire U.S. Moreover, states must publicly report test scores based on parameters such as disability, ethnicity, race, and income. The good news is the much-maligned and despised Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is history. According to the White House, ESSA will also give children access to high-quality preschool education. Another key ESSA function is reducing high school dropout rates by enabling states to redirect resource to failing students who need help to improve.
One unintended consequence of the NCLB was muzzling the voices of educators by forcing tutoring services to toe the NCLB’s and federal government’s line unquestioningly. Fortunately, the creators of the Every Student Succeeds Act have not made the same mistake. In particular, ESSA prohibits the federal government from defining or setting standards that define an “effective” teacher. Furthermore, the federal government cannot impose mandatory teacher evaluations. In other words, decisions such as evaluations of tutors or benchmarking teaching successes and failures will be determined at the state level by parents, teachers and the relevant community members. This means educators will have a say on what happens in the classroom.
No more DOE Micromanagement
The NCLB gave the Department of Education substantial freedom in micromanaging education at the state and school district level. This is no longer the case because the Every Child Succeeds Act has devolved control of K-12 education to states. In fact, the White House in a statement published on its official website admitted that the NCLB imposed cookie-cutter federal solutions on schools. This means parents would not have to worry about federal government honchos opposing or tinkering with education system changes instituted at the local level.
There is no doubt that the newly signed Every Student Succeeds Act is a breath of fresh air in a stale education environment. Its aim is to empower education stakeholders such as teachers and parents to develop localized solutions that can lead to better outcomes in the classroom. At the same time, it devolves education control from the federal government to state governments.
As California’s premiere private tutoring service, all of our tutors are credentialed teachers with classroom experience. We are very familiar with the struggles that are facing our classrooms, and the frustrations that our teachers, parents and students are facing.