Congress & State legislatures
United States of America

August 3, 2006

Thank you very much for visiting our petition.

We must make changes to No Child Left Behind in order to improve the education system for all students.

By signing our petition, you are helping to give a voice to those students who are being "left behind."

To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to read our letter. As graduate students in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Education, we strongly believe that it is our duty to provide our students with an excellent education that will produce not only academically proficient students but young adults who are capable of achieving tremendous success upon completion of schooling.

We have found that one of the greatest hurdles that we will face is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which is the topic of this letter.

We do not intend this letter to be an attack on NCLB; in fact, we believe that it is important to recognize the admirable goals of NCLB. First of all, we commend NCLB for being the first major attempt at bridging the gap between "low" performing and "high" performing schools. Too often do we hear in class of the great advantages students from wealthy families have in education, and NCLB was able - initially - to bring attention to this fact.

We also believe it is important to note NCLB's other intentions such as teacher and school accountability, noting students' individual needs, multiple measures which encourage higher-order thinking, and making improvements on test scores. As upcoming teachers, we also appreciate the idea of creating and maintaining high quality teachers.

Since NCLB's inception in 2001, these worthy goals have not been achieved and, in fact, have been counterproductive in improving the education system. Despite the pleas from school administrators, teachers, and parents, these problems are not receiving the attention they require. As a result, school systems, teachers, and - most importantly - students are the victims.

For improvements to occur, the fundamental flaws in NCLB must be recognized and analyzed, and then changes must occur. Two of these undermining flaws which immediately set up NCLB for disappointment are 1) the idea that producing higher test scores on standardized testing equates with better teaching and 2) that all schools will be able to make tremendous improvements simply through legislation telling them to make such improvements. The first point is flawed primarily by using schools' AYP (adequate yearly progress) to make comparisons. Since each state sets its own AYP standards, one cannot truly receive an accurate comparison between states. Furthermore, no concrete evidence has been produced to say that AYP is an effective way to measure improving test scores. To meet the required AYP goals, states have begun to lower their standards so that they can show improvements and meet NCLB's standards. Regarding the second point, NCLB implies that teachers have the capability to produce high tests scores but simply choose not to work hard enough. Giving pressure and sanctions to teachers is not the way to create the high quality teachers NCLB claims to desire.

NCLB is based on a great idea: that all children need to be provided with the best education and that teachers and schools must be held accountable. However, NCLB has some serious loopholes and those holes are costing the children of this nation a quality education. The loopholes are also causing many teachers, and future teachers like ourselves, to wonder if they are going to loose their jobs for doing what is right and ethical for the children.

We owe it to our students to provide them with the best possible education; as such, we cannot allow NCLB to continue to narrow our curriculum while simultaneously increasing teacher and student expectations.

UTK Graduate Students for Education

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The NCLB: Where Did We Leave Them? petition to Congress & State legislatures was written by utkstudents and is in the category Education at GoPetition.