Caila Bishop NCLB Paper 2/23/11 The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 is a federal legislation passed byCongress. The NCLB is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. TheESEA, which was first enacted in 1965, provided federal funding for education programsprimarily for disadvantaged students. The NCLB continues to define and describe theseeducation programs by adding new accountability mandates that must be met by states in orderto receive funding for the programs. The primary goal of NCLB is to close the “achievementgaps” between various student demographic groups. All states are required to bring all studentsto state designated proficiency levels in reading and math by 2014. However, the big controversyarises when considering whether the major goal of the NCLB is being addressed. Withoutaddressing early childhood education, eliminating the achievement may not be attained. For thisreason some people and organizations think that NCLB should be expanded to PreK-12 ratherthan primarily focusing on K-12. There are large disparities in access and quality that challenge the ability of earlychildhood education to close the achievement gap. Research shows that at-risk children cancatch up to their non-disadvantaged peers if they participate in a high quality PreK programs.However, fewer than half of children ages 3 and 4 engage in an early childhood education.Currently, the funding support for Pre-K education for disadvantaged children is provided at astate level along with some federal funds and state funds. The states differ in their amounts offunding and the types of programs that are funded. The main federal investment in earlyeducation is through Head Start program, but Head Start services reach half than eligiblechildren (New American Foundation). Schools can also use NCLB Title 1 program funds for
pre-education programs. However, historically Title 1 funding has focused and spent its majorityof money on supporting elementary grades 3-8. Little Title 1 money is getting put into the Pre-Keducation programs. The use of Title 1 funds can be used to support the following aspects of a pre-k programs:teacher salaries, professional development, counseling services, leasing or renting space inprivately owned buildings, minor remodeling of facilitating to accommodate three and four yearold children, comprehensive services, and diagnostic screening (Gayle Young Pattterson pg6).Title 1 funds should be getting used for those aspects, but due to a lack of increase in fundingand NCLB mandated set-asides, superintendents and principals have been hesitant to use Title 1funds towards Pre-k. This is because schools who do not meet the performance benchmarksunder the NCLB for two consecutive years, must use up to 20 percent of Title 1 funds to providetheir low performance students with either supplemental education services or the option oftransferring to a better performing public school (Gayle, Young, Patterson pg3). As a result,districts choose to use the Title 1 funds that should go towards pre-k and use them towards otherreform. Although districts are not required to report the amount of Title 1 funds, they usetowards pre-kindergarten activities. In the Fiscal year 2002 an estimated two to three percent ofTitle 1 funds, or $200 million, served over 300,000 children, compared to an estimated $407million spent on preschool in Fiscal year 2000. In other words, Title 1 funding for preschoolactivities has declined since NCLB’s passage and the attendant focus on student performance ingrades 3 through 8 (New American Foundation pg3). Head Start is one of the primary funded pre-k programs through the NCLB. Servicesinclude: preschool education, medical, dental, mental health care, nutrition services and efforts tohelp parents foster their child development. The program’s goal is to help improve readiness of
low-income children. A Head Start Impact Study was conducted in 2002 and continued throughthe spring of 2006. The study evaluated one year of Head Start participation for 4-year-olds, andan earlier year of Head Start for 3-year-olds. The study followed both ages of children from entryinto Head Start through the end of 1st grade. 4-year-olds saw benefits at the end of the Head Startyear in language, literary elements of the cognitive domain, vocabulary, letter-wordidentification, spelling, pre-academic skills, color-identification, letter naming and parent-reported emergent literacy. The 3-year-old group also saw major benefits ranging from letter-word identification, applied problems in math and hyperactive behavior. Despite the advantagesin both age groups the study found that by the end of 1st grade only a single cognitive impactstood out and that there were no impacts for 4-year-olds in the cognitive domain at the end ofkindergarten. The four-year-old did better on their Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and on theWoodcock-Johnson III test of Oral Comprehension (Head Start Impact Study pg 9). In additionthe study found that 4-year-olds that attended Head Start were shyer and had more problems withstudent teacher interactions (Head Start Impact Study pg 15). The Chicago Longitudinal Study is one of the most long term and large-scale studies ofPre-K, which investigates the Child-Parent Center Program. This program was designed todetermine public early childhood intervention on adult well being into the third decade. This wasone of the first studies to look at health and behavior including health insurance coverage, teenparenthood, and child maltreatment. The program followed through with a twenty-year-follow-up at age 24 of 1539 low-income children born in 1979 pr 1980. These children were enrolled ina child parent center program or an alternative early childhood intervention in 20 randomlyselected sites in Chicago, Illinois. The Program found that participants had significantly higherrates of school completion by 20, had higher rates of attendance in 4-year colleges (Evidence
from the Chicago Longitudinal Study pg1). Participants also had lower rates of juvenile arrest forboth violent and nonviolent offenses. In addition they had lower rates of remedial schoolservices, lower rates of incarceration and they were more likely to have health insurance (pg2).Overall, the findings from the Chicago Longitudinal Study support the notion that earlyeducation programs that are high in quality are a worthwhile investment. President Barack Obama would like to increase federal involvement and spending onearly childhood education and care. According to President Obama, “It will be the goal of theadministration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education-from the day they are born to the day they begin a career…because we know that the mostformative learning comes in those first years of life (Reauthorizing the Elementary andSecondary Act 1).” Currently there are several pending bills that Obama would like to see passedwhich include the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Providing Resources Early forKids Act and the Prepare All Kids Act. Although the Obama administration is talking aboutsupporting early childhood and providing some small grants, it is clear that the intention is toleave early childhood support at the federal level up to the Department of Health and HumanServices and Head Start rather than transfer it towards NCLB. One of the debates is whether preschool should be universal and whether more Title 1funds need to be administered toward early education. According to Burke article’s more than 80percent of children already have access to a preschool and the government already providesprograms for low-income children (Burke pg2). For this reason Burke feels that Americanchildren do not need new federal pre-school programs because the majority of children arealready enrolled. 89 percent of children of full-time working mothers had regular early educationor care options in 2005 and more than 72 percent of children from families with incomes below
poverty had regular early education or care options (pg4). For this reason Burke feels as ifproviding new programs to increase access will just be costly and unnecessary. He complainsthat Head Start has already cost taxpayers more than $167 billion (pg3). In addition Burke thinksthat if the bills are implemented government funded programs would crowd out the existingprivate preschools and will undermine their importance On the other hand, Barnett and Yarosz believe that Pre-K participation in the UnitedStates remains highly unequal with many children starting out behind before they reachkindergarten (pg13). Currently, Oklahoma is the only state where almost every child has theopportunity to attend a quality preschool education program at age 4. 12 states have no regularstate preschool education program and in six states fewer than 15 percent of four-year-oldchildren are enrolled in public preschool programs including Head Start (Executive Summarypg8). Research has shown that ordinary childcare has small effects on a child’s learning anddevelopment. According to Barnett and Yarosz children who participate in high qualitypreschool education have increased educational attainment, increased employment and earnings,less delinquency and crime and improved health related behavior like less drug use and lesssmoking (Barnett and Yarosz pg11). In addition, early education intervention has shown withfollow ups that young adults who participated in the program were more likely to have a skilledjob and were less likely to have become teen parents. There are also increased cognitive abilitiesin participants that can be seen up until the eighth grade. (Research and Policy Implications pg12). According to New America Foundation one Recommendation towards closing thisachievement gap would be to increase Title 1 flexibility to serve needy children early in gradesPreK-third, before they fail. Although the program is designed to serve “low income”, “poor” or
“disadvantage children” NCLB’s Title 1 Funds actually serve children from all income levelsand multiple grades, as long as they are low achieving or at risk of failing. This means that fundsgo to states, districts and schools based off poverty (pg 6). However funds are targeted tochildren within the school based on academic achievement. Meaning support is only given tostudents after they fail. Since schools have complete flexibility in how they use Title 1 funds apercentage should target non-schoolwide programs settings that would be made available forearly intervention strategies in grades PreK- third regardless of whether students have failed first.In addition the New America Foundation supports the idea of dedicating all new Title 1 fundingto PreK- third early education to close the achievement gap right from the start. This effortwould reach a wide underserved student population and lay political groundwork for futurefunding increase (pg 7). Investing in pre-k education has been shown to be very beneficial for children up throughtheir adult life. To me it is important that children get a head start on their education and by theage of four children are eager to learn and they learn skills that will last a lifetime. Title 1 fundsand Pre-K programs have proven effective in that participants have a higher rate of schoolcompletion, lower rates of arrest, low rates of hyperactivity and lower rates of incarceration. Notonly that, but there are proven cognitive abilities up until the eighth grade. Although theseprograms have been proven effective they are not reaching all children. This is why I believethat the funding provided for pre-k disadvantaged students and all pre-k students at a state levelcan be improved with help from the federal government via NCLB. I believe that improvementscan be made by increasing some of the funds and programs for pre- k students, by distributingfunds properly, and by evaluating and making changes to the programs that are already availableas well as having states come together to address effective methods of teaching. Research shows
that because participation in the pre-k programs in the United States is unequal, children areentering kindergarten and they are academically behind (Barnett and Yarosz 13). I believe thatby providing children with pre-k education they will be better off academically in theirelementary school years. For this reason I believe that Obama should transfer early childhoodsupport to the NCLB rather than leaving it a federal level with DHHS and Head Start.
ReferencesBarnett, W.S. and Yarosz, D.J. (2007). Who Goes to Preschool and Why Does It Matter? NewBrunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.http://nieer.org/resources/policybriefs/15.pdfBarnett, W.S. (2008). Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and PolicyImplications. Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.http://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Barnett_EarlyEd.pdfBarnett, W.S., et. al. (2009). The State of Preschool 2008. (Open executive summary) NewBrunswick, N.J.: National Institute for Early Education Research. http://nieer.org/yearbook/Burke, L., 2010, More Government Preschool: An Expensive and Unnecessary Middle-ClassSubsidy, Backgrounder No. 2378, Heritage Foundation.http://s3.amazonaws.com/thf_media/2010/pdf/bg2378.pdfGayle, C., et. al. (2009). New Beginnings: Using Federal Title 1 Funds to Support Local PreKEfforts. PreKNow (Pew Center on the States).http://www.preknow.org/documents/titleI_Sep2009.pdfReynolds, A., et. al. (2007). Effects of a Preschool and School-Age Intervention on Adult Healthand Well Being: Evidence from the Chicago Longitudinal Study. Paper presented at the biennialmeeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, March 30, 2007, Boston, MA.http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/files/PREK3RD/resources/pdf/EffectsOfAPreschoolAndSchoolAgeInterventionReynolds.pdfDepartment of Education. (2010). Blueprint for Reauthorizing the Elementary and SecondaryEducation Act; look at Early Learning http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/faq/early-learning.pdfUs Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Head Start Federal Impact Study. (Note:the methodology of this study has been criticized.)http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/hs/impact_study/reports/impact_study/executive_summary_final.pdfRusso, A. (2007). The Key to NCLB Success: Getting it Right from the Start. New AmericanFoundation Early Education Initiative Issue Brief #5.http://www.newamerica.net/files/nafmigration/IBPK3NCLBSuccess_0.pdf