Dear Mr. President,
My name is John Doe. I am a student at Parkway West Middle School, and I am writing to you today to share my thoughts about the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). I first became interested about NCLB when I read a Time Magazine article about how it has affected schools and communities now, a decade after its inception. I read that exceptional schools were severely penalized because of scores in the highly ineffective testing the act created. When I saw the situation, I began to wonder how hurting schools, with severe punishments, could possibly help them improve.
The first major issue with NCLB is that it relies too heavily on standardized testing, an unreliable information source. These state tests are taken by all students in the state between third through eighth grade, as well as a year of high school, are meant to establish a common standard of comparison to assess the proficiency of students. Schools are required to meet certain standards, as well as certain minority groups, classified by race, gender, and income level. However, the tests aren't good at evaluating how well a school educates its students. Whether students have learning disabilities, speech or language delays, or are learning English, all students take the exact same test, with little or no accommodations. Imagine taking a test in Mandarin after moving to China two days ago- that is the essence of what NCLB forces upon some schoolchildren, and the tests makes no note of progress. To add to this problem, some states chose to enforce lax standards with their tests, therefore removing the validity of the assessment. For all of those reasons, the data from the testing the NCLB so highly depends on is completely skewed.
The other major problem with NCLB is that it has penalties that are much too harsh. They include funding cuts after one year of not being proficient, paying for transportation to other nearby schools after two years, paying for private tutors after three years, and restructuring or management changes after five years. This only causes problems, because it is like rubbing salt on the wounds of already failing schools. In addition, since these punishments are solely based on the unreliable standardized testing results, exceptional schools are often punished heavily. In addition, as the test results determine the punishments, schools often narrow their curriculum to subjects in the tests to avoid the undesirable consequences. Teachers are often forced to neglect important lessons and topics. Curriculum should inspire students to succeed in their futures, academically and professionally, not bore students to get the right answers to questions on the tests. NCLB has changed the dynamics of school, in that the goal of school is now to prepare students for tests, instead of what it used to be- to prepare students for life. These punishments are cruel, almost to the point of being draconian, and do no good at all.
The No Child Left Behind Act fundamentally changed America's education system, and in my opinion, it had a negative impact. I know that this issue is hugely debated, and I believe that the only solution to this problem is to repeal this legislation. Please do everything in your power to make that goal a reality.
Thank you for the work you do every day, and the commitment that you have made for this country.
Parkway West Middle School
Mrs. Elsie F. Rafferty
Parkway West Middle School
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