Advancements in Educational Reform with New Legislation

When asked about policies pertaining to education and school reform, four words come to the minds of most Americans: No Child Left Behind. This act was passed by Congress in 2001 in efforts to, “close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice so that no child is left behind (1).”However, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act has been replaced by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015 with a new legislation titled Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). America’s national K-12 education has been long overdue for revision that will be more effective to fully prepare students for success in college and future careers. NCLB mandated all public schools to administer standardized testing every year to all students. Furthermore, schools that received funding from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 were expected to make adequate yearly progress in test scores. If schools failed to reach these state-determined test scores, then action would be taken to improve the school. The act also promised to supply schools with highly qualified teachers. All standards to determine if teachers are highly qualified and one challenging standard for students were to be set by each individual state. This implemented system consequently created a “one-size-fits-all education system with uneven standards, and low expectations for our educational system. (2)”

Action was finally taken when the bipartisan bill, Every Student Succeeds Act, replaced the outdated NCLB. This piece of legislation raises expectations for students and it aims at preparing them for college and beyond. Research by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the White House concludes that high school graduation rates are at an all time high, dropout rates are at an all time low, and more students are attending college. ESSA is ensuring that more positive progress is accomplished by holding all students to high academic standards, preparing students for success college and careers, more access to high-quality preschool, guaranteed support to schools and students in terms of improvement, lessening the strain of standardized testing but still producing annual information, and the promotion of local innovation.

After signing this bill in, President Barack Obama said, “With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal- that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will.” This act has high hopes in raising America’s academic performance by targeting where students are succeeding and where they need improvement. Certainly the best component of this bill is its attempt at promoting higher education beyond high school. With the passage of this bill, America is showing initiative and is undoubtedly providing students the pathway to success. The problem with this legislation however, is that despite students being able to get into college, fewer students are actually succeeding in college. In the City of New York, they celebrate a high school graduation rate of over 70%. Despite this remarkable feat, less than half of said graduates were classified as capable of meeting the academic demands of college (4). Education reform still needs improvement at the collegiate level, but significant strides are being made to improve education across the board.

Works Cited

"Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)." Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2016.

"No Child Left Behind Overview: Definitions, Requirements, Criticisms, and More." Education Week. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2016.

"Secretary Duncan: "Finally a Fix to No Child Left Behind"" The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2016.

Harris, Elizabeth. "New York City’s High School Graduation Rate Tops 70%." New York Times    11 Jan. 2016. Web.

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