Educational Inequality in the Wake of No Child Left Behind
November 9, 2013 04:07 PM
By Orelaru Yetunde Mary, University of Bradford
The Spencer Lecture on Thursday morning featured Adam Gamoran, President of the William T. Grant Foundation, who provided valuable insight and suggested potential pathways to awaken the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program. Reauthorized by Congress, the NCLB aims to raising and closing the achievement gaps in elementary and secondary schools so that no child is left behind. Specifically, the program was designed to help disadvantage students by supporting standard based education reform. With the assumption that setting high standard and developing measurable goals will improve academic performance of any student, NLCB expanded federal roles in the educational system through annual testing, academic progress report, and teachers’ qualification. However, NCLB does not assert national achievement standards.
Gamoran identified the need to provide a broader context for understanding educational inequality and school reform through following trends in the education sector, particularly in retention rates, and the overall pace of improvement. For example, Gamoran asserted that students with parents who dropped out of school are most likely to do the same. This implies that students’ educational outcomes are affected by their families’ socioeconomic background. Considering this factor, it might be harder for schools to push the achievement on such students as a teacher still faces a group from diverse background. However, if students’ demography are put into consideration in modeling their growth, it will motivate various education agents in seeking new ways to improve students learning. Thus, Gamoran emphasized that reducing the gap in student achievement will depend on preserving policies that lay emphasis on reducing inequality and developing new learning initiatives.
A few of Gamora'sn assertions on inequality were:
A focus on achievement growth will identify effective schools more efficiently.
Teacher evaluations could promote incentives to bring effective teachers to high needs schools.
Policy researchers should explore variation in effects across context that will improve internal validity, and take advantage of new resources.
In conclusion, Gamoran stated “Inequality can be addressed. Not quickly enough to satisfy all, but enough to make a real difference for disadvantaged children.”