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No Child Left Behind Policy - Levelling Education for Disadvantaged Students

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 1926 words Published: 13th Jul 2021

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The current educational reform movement based its inflexible promise on all children achieving higher academic performance levels. Standards-based reform started with states financial assistance to develop content and performance standards, improving the quality of teachers and increased accountability in schools. The reform movement evolved into federal corrective measures under the Act of 2001 “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) and the Act of 2004 “Individuals with Disabilities Education” (IDEA) for states and schools that made no significant annual progress (Hardman, Dawson, 2008). The federal government expects NCLB to boost overall student performance and decrease the gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students.

This paper examines the Federal history in standards-based reform, policy role in guaranteeing general curriculum and research-based education access for disabled students, and future policy issues in achieving higher academic performance levels for all students.


During the 1990s, research showed, despite the standard of educational benefits, students with disabilities lower expectations led to their exclusion from states and national evaluations (Hardman, Dawson, 2008). Since schools ignore students with disabilities in accountability systems, the federal government introduces the NCLB and IDEA Acts to ensure that all U.S students achieve higher academic achievement levels. The academic success promise is non-exclusive and thus includes disabled students. Because NCLB mandated every student to succeed, schools must develop the highest educational levels, offer rigorous curriculums and employ clear instructions. Additionally, they must ensure that every child has access to the curriculum based on universal standards.

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Moreover, students with disabilities must have access to evaluations measuring performance criteria and included in the reports that decide whether districts, schools, and states meet performance standards. If students fail to meet standards, the federal government will hold states, schools and professionals responsible for the failing students. The problem is that the one-size fits all federal policy approach with uneven standards, and the educational system lower expectations are not affordable; thus schools are failing and requesting waivers from NCLB sanctions in exchange for promises.

Proposed Action

Based on the researchers and educators’ arguments, the most significant recommendation is to maintain high academic standards for disabled students and to report their results by subgroup. Secondly, develop teachers ‘ ability to provide differentiated education and stricter curricula. For students to benefit from higher-level curricula, teachers must possess the content knowledge and pedagogical skills to work with a variety of children, especially disabled students. Thirdly provide incentives to entice, hire, and hold special-ed instructors. As special-ed educators retire, greater attention is necessary for developing the profession and maintaining enough instructors with the knowledge and skills to teach disabled students.

Moreover, NCLB and IDEA necessitate information gathering and reporting on students results and program features, but the laws employ different definitions and reporting formats, which should align closer to prevent states, districts, and schools from doubling gathering efforts. Besides, NCLB should amend the reporting to include post-school results since such outcomes are a crucial indicator of students’ success. Likewise, ensure that disabled students measurement expands beyond academic skills achievement. Disabled student assessment definition should extend to incorporate professional, marketability, and everyday skills. Lastly, expand special education funding.  Helping disabled students attain upper-level curricula needs extra support services, possibly extended school hours, higher quality instructors, multidisciplinary tutoring, and modern educational strategies. The present obligation to disburse 15% of IDEA funds on general education, to early intervention services shifts funding from a population already in need (National Council on Disability, 2008).

Pros Cons and Gaps of the Policy

The federal public policy has advantages, disadvantages, and gaps. NCLB most positive benefit is the generation of massive amounts of student performance data in English and Math. For policymakers and educational researchers, the vibrant student data availability, and test samples was a bonanza for vital statistics, higher education, and labor market. Another NCLB positive is that schools are accountable for both their students ‘ aggregate and subgroups test scores, which may disregard otherwise. A third NCLB advantage was the requirement for every teacher to be highly qualified. Although several states addressed this requirement initially by creating distinct quality measures, they had formal teacher quality requirements pursuant the statue, and school districts (90%) reported that every core subjects teacher would qualify based on NCLB ( Ladd, 2017). Students with disabilities in the general curriculum, profoundly, experience a broader subject range. Lastly, both students; disabled and those without disabilities enjoy equal opportunity at school curriculum.

Despite the positive components, employing more draconian than constructive stepwise accountability pressure by law signifies a flawed strategy for improving schools. Foremost, the NCLB test-based accountability educational view was too constricted. Many citizens would concur that educational and schooling aspirations should be more comprehensive compared to instructing students how to ace multiple – choice exams. A broader view would recognize the role schools play in developing children skills and knowledge that will not only enable them to succeed. Secondly, NCLB was extremely unrealistic with its expectations and misguided. If we even earmarked its maximum percentage competence target as aggressive rhetoric, in numerous way the program still inflicts dysfunctional expectations. Remember, one of NCLB’s objectives was to improve the nation’s educational standards. Since the federal government bear responsibility for state-level education, federal policymakers must permit each state to set its competency standards.

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A third NCLB disadvantage was that it exerted considerable pressure on schools to advance student performance without providing the support necessary to secure every student  chance to learn at the highest standards.  NCLB, thus only incorporated initially part one of the standardized intellectuals planned comprehensive package. The package began with high ambitious student standards but concentrated on instructors’ ability to offer an ambitious curriculum and the necessary available resources to ensure every child have the chance at the highest standards of learning.  Instead, NCLB depends upon difficult test‐based motivations almost entirely. Similarly, the universal content standards establishment opinion for students with disabilities demonstrate inconsistency with the individualization concept and does not support disabled students.  If every student must meet the same academic criteria, the expectation of accommodating the less disabled students lowers the bar. Lastly, it is impossible for every student to achieve the expected standards.

Furthermore, there are also gaps in the NCLB and IDEA Federal Educational policy limiting the intent to enhance disabled students’ academic performance. Inadequate supervision and oversight led to unattended gaps because the duties were improperly allocated for persons to manage. For IDEA, little study directly supported the assumption that access to the general curriculum and inclusion in national and district testing systems will improve students outcome.  Therefore, studies into the effectiveness of the educational reforms are urgently needed, as public policy for numerous years persistently outperform practice. With the line progressively obscuring amid special and general education, policymakers must rethink and realign instructors’ roles. One unknown is whether special education can maintain its identity and rights-based rationale and still participate wholly in a reformed system that aims to provide an equitable and excellent education to every child.

Moreover, the federal education improvement trajectory for future years is fuzzy. Several reform subjects need addressing to fulfill the movement based on standards promise for disabled students. Will schools adopt powerful, unique education general curriculum necessary for disabled students? Are software developers prepared to offer the necessary time, training, and resources for multistep education, universal approach, and adaptive technology in the schools? Apart from highlighting academic material, will state standards ultimately represent the disabled student various needs, such as independent living and social skills training? Lastly, will general and special teachers be prepared to collaborate to fulfill every student’s needs?

Conclusion and Future Study

Briefly, it was challenging to transform the NCLB policy into the classroom to positively impact children with disabilities. Every state NCLB and IDEA implementation experience was unique and impacted by several factors, like population, physical attributes, resources access, and advanced preparation levels. NCLB and IDEA’s most significant outcome stop disabled students from being discounted or disregarded. Now, people must focus on them and ensure that they receive equal opportunities as their colleagues who are not disabled. Ultimately, NCLB and IDEA impact was significant and positive. Educators, superintendents, and society know disabled students’ capabilities if hold to similar top-levels and expectations as other students. Finally, students with disabilities have talents, and the educational system must challenge, encourage, and develop these skills.


  • Duncan, A. (2015, December 4). Secretary Duncan: “Finally a Fix to No Child Left Behind” – ED.gov Blog. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://blog.ed.gov/2015/12/secretary-duncan-finally-a-fix-to-no-child-left-behind/
  • Hardman, M. L., & Dawson, S. (2008). The impact of federal public policy on curriculum and instruction for students with disabilities in the general classroom. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 52(2), 5-11. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.libproxy.db.erau.edu/doi/abs/10.3200/PSFL.52.2.5-11
  • Ladd, H. F. (2017, January 30). NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: A DEEPLY FLAWED FEDERAL POLICY – Ladd – 2017 – Journal of Policy Analysis and Management – Wiley Online Library. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/pam.21978
  • The National Council on Disability. (2008, January 28). The No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from http://www.educationalpolicy.org/publications/pubpdf/NCD_2008.pdf


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