NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT
No Child Left Behind Act
and Application to
Children with Special Needs
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was legislation created in 2001 for United States education reform. This act sets federal standards for core subjects such as reading, math, writing, and science, as minimum educational achievement requirements over state and local standards. Prior to the NCLB act, state and local standards for education and achievement varied greatly and allowed for a certain percentage of children to fall below what is now considered acceptable standards. It created an urgent push for all children in all publicly funded educational institutions throughout the United States to efficiently read, write, perform mathematics, and know basic principles of science prior to graduating thought a system of accountability. First, was requiring children in third grade through the eighth grade to participate in yearly standardized testing. These scores are considered in the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) that assesses the effectiveness of an educational institution. NCLB additionally requires instructors of core subjects to be knowledgeable of the subjects that they are teaching. This is necessary to ensure that school aged children are receiving a high quality education from high quality instructors. If schools are consistently failing to meet or exceed standards, parents have the flexibility to remove their children from a failing school and relocate them to a higher performing institution. All of these things in combination increase the quality of education and ensure that “no child is left behind” (Bush, 2001.)
Child development specialists in school settings are primarily focused on global development in regards to how it affects their education. If children are not achieving at a proficient level, not only could it indicate a problem in the child’s educational realm, it may indicate a developmental issue. This is especially so if the particular child is not achieving at the same level of his or her peers. The required standardized testing serves as a valuable screening tool for child development specialists in an educational setting. The law also has provisions to allow states and school districts the flexibility to reallocate funds as they see fit. Typically, these funds are given to special needs programs to support their program and the children’s development in regards to their education so that they may achieve on the same level as their peers. The standardized testing additionally measures educational progress over a yearly period. The NCLB act increases the accountability for educational programs for children with special needs by holding them to a federally mandated standard. It ensures that even children with special needs are receiving a high quality education with opportunities to learn essential core materials and can perform at a proficient level. In certain instances, NCLB allows specific accommodations for children with special needs, such as changes in the materials provided for testing and procedures in order to gauge their knowledge rather than their disability. NCLB additionally allows for one percent of students receiving special education to take alternative assessments to gauge progress.
Perry must be provided with similar opportunities for education from high quality instructors. These instructors are responsible for ensuring that Perry is knowledgeable in core subjects through a curriculum focused on that subject matter appropriate for the grade level and age group. These achievements can be made possible with help from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). NCLB works with IDEA by providing assistance and services that are deemed necessary for children with special needs. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) identify these services and set goals for development and achievement. NCLB ensures that Perry’s educational goals outlined in his IEP are met with consistency. If these needs and achievements are not being met and if the school has fallen below the standards measured in the AYP, then Perry’s parents have the right to transfer him to an achieving school that would better suit his needs.
General education instructors are charged with the task of meeting both the needs of their general student population and those children with special needs, as well as addressing exceptional circumstances, such as adapting their classroom and curriculum. Perry’s teacher should consider introducing Perry and familiarizing the students with Perry’s assistive equipment. A wheelchair may be an unfamiliar object and possibly a little frightening for the students. The teacher should also engage the students in dialogue with Perry about his wheelchair and his physical handicap. Some of the students may know another person with that special need. This dialogue can help to open future interactions between the children and assist them in understanding one another. Also, it may be advisable to have the teacher give Perry a tour of the classroom prior to introducing him into the classroom setting. Perry may feel more comfortable if he is familiar with his surroundings before he interacts with any of his peers. Once Perry is introduced and included into the classroom, cooperative learning strategies have been proven effective at reciprocal interaction and provide positive outcomes for education. Collaborative schoolwork and environment, study buddies, as well as encouraging communal respect and reward for said behaviors will also provide a positive and productive learning environment for promoting Perry’s education while considering his particular needs.
Perry’s parents should be actively involved in his education and the process along the way. This starts by assisting in developing the IEP by being active participants in the IEP’s development. This way, they are fully aware of the contents of his IEP, particularly pertaining to the services and goals outlined within. Perry’s parents should be encouraged to participate in active dialogue between teachers, specialists, aides, and any other entity involved in Perry’s education. They have the right to outright ask what services are being provided and know if those involved with his IEP are fully familiar with it’s contents. Additionally, his parents should be permitted to have limited observation of Perry’s activities at school. Finally, a progress report is issued to Perry’s parents in the same manner that a report card or progress report goes out to a child who is not disabled. These progress reports will contain information regarding the services that Perry has received, the progress he has made, goals he has reached, revisions that may be necessary and any other pertinent information concerning Perry’s education and development. Active parents involvement in Perry’s education, IEP, and conferences with education professionals is critical to ensuring that he is receiving the high quality education mandated by NCLB and the services to receive that education through IDEA. This also includes parents to be knowledgeable of their rights as parents of a child with an exceptionality, and to be able to protect Perry’s rights granted under federal and state law. This will also allow them to be better advocates of Perry and become aware of additional services and options they have available to them.
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