Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001 is better known as the No Child Left Behind Act or NCLB. This act was developed with ideas put forth by educational psychologists Gerald Corey, Marianne Schneider Corey, and Patrick Callanan: They proposed narrowing the gaps in achievement between minority and non-minority students. The gaps could also be closed between those students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with a greater number of advantages. The act set up stringent standards for schools and established continuous assessments to evaluate schools progressions.
“The act is based on four basic principles: stronger accountability for results, increased flexibility and local control, expanded options for parents, and an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work," according to information now archived in the U.S. Department of Education website. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the inequality of standardized test scores should be eliminated by 2014.
The standardized tests the children would be taking would help the federal government to see where students were lacking. “The new law's unmistakable message is if it's not on a test, it's not worth knowing. “ (Karp, 2004)
While the Act stated that students in all public schools in all states would undergo annual testing, there have been no set federal standards for these tests. States have to use their own good judgment on how to go about testing the students. There have been major differences in this array of testing. Some states test every year while other states test every three to four years. Some states even test various subjects, not only the mandated reading and math. One major difference is that some states use norm-referenced tests while other states use criterion-referenced tests.
“Norm-referenced tests assess a student’s broad knowledge, measuring performance against a relevant comparison group. Criterion-referenced tests measure specific skills in relation to pre-established standards of academic performance." (Wenning, Herdman, Smith, McMahon, & Washington, 2003) Supporters of this Act prefer criterion-referenced tests because they can be appropriately aligned to the states standards. Unfortunately, they are more expensive to prepare and the consequence is results which are harder to compare.
There is a lot of flexibility with the testing standards. Standards were set forth such that before 2005-2006 each state had to test proficiency for math, reading or language arts at least one time between third and fifth grade, sixth and ninth grade, and tenth and twelfth grade. By 2005-2006 each state had to test these subjects annually between the third and twelfth grade and by 2007-2008 school year science was to also be included. Unfortunately, the definition of proficiency differs from state to state.