No Child Left Behind and Discipline

The follow-up to the original 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now referred to as “No Child Left Behind,” will rank as one of the most poorly constructed laws to improve education.

The approaches to increase low academic performance (which always concerns behavior and how schools handle discipline challenges) are narrowly drawn and rigid and in many ways counterproductive for improving education. In addition, there is an overreliance on test scores to measure academic quality. Standardized test scores are poor measures of academic progress. The purpose of standardized tests is to achieve a bell-shaped curve. If more than 50 per cent of a question is answered correctly, the question is eliminated because it does not add to the goal of achieving the desired curve.

The federal administration then created a system of waivers from the requirements but only four states agreed to meet them.

Although the rules for waivers seem more sensible than requirements in the law, they also include the administration’s bias. For example, it was made clear that states would have a better chance to win a waiver if they adopted the Common Core curriculum standards, AND if they made test scores a significant factor in evaluating teacher performance.

The government is within its rights to demand higher achievement in exchange for federal money, but how that is accomplished should be left to states, which are constitutionally authorized to run public schools. In addition, there are an increasing number of states whose legislatures are preventing participation in the Common Core approach.

To show the relationship between improving educational progress and school discipline, a mandate is now spreading across the nation to reduce school suspensions. If student suspension rates are high, this is a condemnation of the discipline system used in schools.

When teachers increase student motivation to be responsible and put forth effort in learning, school suspension will decrease, relations will improve, and academic achievement will dramatically increase. The Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model shows how these are achieved.