The Effectiveness of No Child Left Behind
Barnhart, Trent A.
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In 2002 a new law was enacted that changed the education system of America, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB sets standards for every student and school district across the nation requiring that each student reach a proficient level of mathematical performance by the 2013-14 school year. Whether the student is from a rich community or poor community, that student must be at the same level in mathematical assessment. Students who are classified as disabled are also included in this legislation. Since NCLB was enacted, teachers across the nation had complained about the expectations this law set for their students. The United States Department of Education indicated their expectations are more realistic than what teachers believe it to be. This notion is based on the information they collected through the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP is a national test that is offered in each state, but many schools decided not to use the NAEP and used their own alternate state assessment instead. For example, Wisconsin is a state where every school district does not administer the NAEP. Most school districts used the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE), a test that all 4th, 8th, and 10th grade students took before the Common Core State Standards came into effect in 2014 and changed the testing system used in Wisconsin. This study investigated Wisconsin state assessment data for mathematics gathered by the WKCE tests for grades 4th, 8th, and 10th for the 1997-99 school year through the 2013-14 school year. The data collected was taken from the Department of Public Education public site. Student participants were grouped into different categories to compare over time to see if there were any noticeable significant differences. These groups include gender, ethnicity, and disability both at an urban district level and the state level. Data was statistically analyzed through multiple one-tailed t-tests assuming equal variances at a .05 level of significance. The results from the first set of hypotheses, which compared the state of Wisconsin to a large urban district, concluded that the NCLB statute had no significant impact on student achievement in mathematics when using beginning year scores compared to ending year scores for consecutive testing years were compared for grade levels 4, 8, and 10. However, the study did reveal student achievement in the urban district was significantly less compared to student achievement in the state of Wisconsin. The results from the second set of hypotheses, which compared gender performance in mathematics, concluded that the NCLB statute had no significant impact on closing the gender gap between males and females. In the state of Wisconsin, it was found that there is a significant gender gap in grade levels 4, 8, and 10 in mathematics where males outperformed females. However, the study did reveal that a significant gender gap only existed in grade level 10 for the urban school district in mathematics. The lower grade levels showed no indication of a gender gap in the urban district. The results from the third set of hypotheses, which compared ethnic performance in mathematics, concluded that the NCLB statute had no significant impact on closing the achievement gap between white, black, and Hispanic students. In both the state of Wisconsin and the urban district, there was a significant achievement gap between white students and their black and Hispanic peers. Also, Hispanic students showed significant achievement gains when compared to their black peers, where Hispanic students outperformed the black students. The results from the fourth set of hypotheses, which compared disabled students to nondisabled students performance in mathematics, concluded that the NCLB statute had no significant impact on closing the achievement gap between disabled and non-disabled students. Disabled students performed significantly lower than their non-disabled peers.
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