Should states have total power over school learning content? Historically, local government has exercised control over U.S. schools across the country, including decisions about school standards and classroom learning content. But in 2001, Congress signed into federal law the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which reinstated a number of federal programs designed to improve school performance by increasing state, school district, and school standards.
The NCLB is controversial for a number of reasons. Many doubt its effectiveness in actually improving school performance. Another concern is that the NCLB might actually lower states’ achievement goals by encouraging teachers to teach learning content solely as preparation for standardized tests. One 2008 study from the Department of Education concluded that the Reading First Program, a major billion dollar a year NCLB initiative, had proven ineffective. Time will tell if U.S. taxpayers’ money has gone to good use.
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