Argument: No Child Left Behind fosters accountability in public schools
- Resolved: That on balance, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has improved academic achievement in the United States
- Debate: No Child Left Behind Act
Bill Byrne. "No Child Left Behind — Really? Why I like this law." - I am an attorney who represents children with disabilities. For more than 25 years, I have watched school after school “drop the ball” — and not give proper education services to disabled children. The only recourse is for courageous and determined parents to take on school systems and make them follow the law, often leading to costly and painful lawsuits.
The federal No Child Left Behind law changes all this, and puts the burden on school systems to show that schools are doing their job. The law requires schools to be accountable for the progress of students — all students — not just “the best and the brightest.”
The law requires schools to test all children to see where they are, to establish a baseline, and then to measure progress. Importantly, schools can’t lump all kids together so that the bright ones bring up the average for all. Schools have to measure progress in subgroups, so we can see on annual report cards how the school is doing with disabled kids, poor kids, minority kids and kids of migratory workers for whom English is a second language. These are the groups of kids who historically get left behind.
Bill Byrne. "No Child Left Behind — Really? Why I like this law." - No Child Left Behind will short-circuit all of the excuses and explanations. School systems that do a good job with children with disabilities will show their progress, and those that fail to do a good job will have their ineffectiveness exposed. Then parents and voters can make informed decisions about how to get the underachievers on track.
H.R. 1 will result in the creation of assessments in each state that measure what children know and learn in reading and math in grades 3-8. Student progress and achievement will be measured according to tests that will be given to every child, every year.
H.R. 1 will empower parents, citizens, educators, administrators, and policymakers with data from those annual assessments. The data will be available in annual report cards on school performance and on statewide progress. They will give parents information about the quality of their children's schools, the qualifications of teachers, and their children's progress in key subjects.
Statewide reports will include performance data disaggregated according to race, gender, and other criteria to demonstrate not only how well students are achieving overall but also progress in closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and other groups of students.