Statement of the problem
One of the most significant problems facing education in the United States is the need to increase the performance of the students of African American and Latin origin (Bourdett & City, 2007). This is due to the fact that the identified group usually scores low on high-stakes tests compared to white Americans, in what is usually known as the achievement gap.
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Despite the fact that $ 321 billion has been spent within duration of the last forty years to improve education and reduce the disparities in educational achievements, it is arguably evident that an effective solution is yet to be arrived at.
During 2001, the Bush administration enacted the No Child Left Behind with the main objective of reducing the achievement gap and ensuring that every child in the United States achieves a high quality standard level of education as of the year 2014 (California Department of Education, 2007).
The timeline for the implementation of the program is near yet there have been diverse opinions and criticisms on the effectiveness of the program in meeting its goals as initially established. The following figure shows the federal spending for the NCLB act.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2010 was enacted by the US Congress with the main objective of initiating reforms in public schools basing on the proposition that the establishment of high standards of education and development of measurable goals can help in enhancing the educational outcomes in public schools (Hickok, 2007).
The NCLB Act demands that states have the responsibility of developing assessments that are to be issued to students in public schools in order for the states to be granted federal funding.
The NCLB Act is not based on a national achievement standard; instead, the individual states establish their own standards. The significant area of concern is whether is whether the NCLB has reduced the achievement gap in public schools (Mills, 2008).
When passing the legislation, President Bush claimed that the reform will foster significant improvements in the American public schools through the creation of an environment where every child can receive education in a real an unparalleled and flexible manner for the states and the school districts.
This in turn disseminates greater control, diverse alternatives for the parents and allocation of funding what is deemed effective towards the achievement of the educational goals and objectives in the United States (U.S. Department of Education, 2008).
The main purpose of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind in meeting its goals and objectives. The NCLB Act is a public initiative implemented by the federal government to reduce the achievement gap.
This research aims at evaluating the impacts of the NCLB Act with regard to the elimination of the achievement gap. On a narrow perspective, the study determines whether the adoption of NCLB by the various states in the US has reduced the gaps on the high-stake test scores among the students of African American and Latin origin.
Research question: Has the NCLB Act been effective in reducing the achievement gap in the United States education?
Significance of the research
The NCLB can be considered to be a significant reform in the United States education sector, yet minimal research has been adapted to evaluate and prove its effectiveness. This research carries out an empirical analysis with the main objective of having a comprehensive understanding of the NCLB, which is vital in having an overview of its impacts on the achievements of the students.
The research will therefore form part of literature used to evaluate the NCLB and other notable reforms in the education sectors in the United States that are proposed to enhance academic achievement.
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Review of Literature
Since the introduction of the Elementary and Secondary Act during 1965, the United States Federal government has recorded expenditures of $ 311 billion for the principal objective of improving the quality of education (Shakrani, 2007).
Despite such a high amount of expenditures on education, the United States Department of Education reports that only 32 percent of the 4th graders are able read at that grade level, while 68 percent of the fourth graders who are not able to read are mostly from the minority communities characterized by intense levels of poverty.
In addition, the US has a prevalence rate of approximately 20.8 percent in the lowest literacy level (Mooney, 2008).
The National Center for Education Statistics defines the existing educational disparities in the United States as the achievement gap, which stands out as one of the significant challenges when making policies to be implemented in the United States education sector (Mills, 2008).
An achievement gap in the United States education is notably evident due to the fact that students that have equal opportunity do not perform equally with regard to academic excellence when in the same level of education (Shakrani, 2007).
The NCLB Act is an educational reform aimed at reducing the achievement gap through eliminating the disparities in educational achievement in the United States. The Act emphasizes on the improvement of performance of children enrolled in public schools.
The policies outlined in the Act emphasizes on fostering stronger accountability for educational outcomes, the autonomy of the states and states and schools, fostering educational strategies that have been proven to be effective and offering diverse alternatives to the parents (Shakrani, 2007). Accountability is reinforced using the establishment of standards for the schools.
The schools and districts that have been constantly failing to achieve the requirements are the central focus of the use of improvement and corrective action, and the use of restructuring strategies with the main objective of getting them back on course so as to achieve the minimum state requirements.
In addition, parents are offered with additional alternatives for seeking other schools for enrollment of their child in cases whereby the schools have not met the minimum state requirements.
Districts are also charged with the responsibility of offering transport services to students who have enrolled in other schools. The overall goal is to ensure equitable academic achievement for the pupils who have equal opportunities of enhancing their education.
When conducting an analysis of the impacts of NCLB, Rayburn (2004) states that the categorizing schools as failing will only result to overpopulation in schools that are not deemed failing. An observation made by Rayburn is that a significant percentage of schools are considered failing. For instance, in 87 percent of elementary schools in Florida are considered failing (Rayburn, 2004).
When assessing the feasibility of the Annual Yearly Progress, a framework used to rate schools, Lee (2004) considers the goals of the program as being unrealistic. The outcomes of such studies pose the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the NCLB Act in reducing the achievement gap.
The Center for Education Policy reports that after a year implementation of the Act, it has been effective in increasing student performance and reducing the achievement gaps. The Center for Education Policy therefore recommends for the reinforcements of the federal sanctions and directives in order for it to be effective (Lee, 2004).
Research methods are primarily based on the structure of the research question. When carrying out a research, the researcher can choose between qualitative and quantitative approaches (Holcomb, 2010). Quantitative approach entails the collection and analysis of quantifiable data and statistics so as to result to infer a conclusion; it involves collecting data through investigative units such as questionnaires.
Qualitative approach on the other hand utilises analysis and evaluation of qualitative data through interviews and observation so as to reach a conclusion. This research requires both the analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data from the performance of the students of Latin and African American Origin (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Therefore the research design will implement both qualitative and quantitative approaches; with the data acquisition methods including primary sources. This is because the data collected will be in form of questionnaires and interviews which are quantitative and qualitative respectively.
The deductive approach because it will involve empirical evidence that will attempt to explain the extent to which the factors influence consumer preference. Therefore a deductive approach will be used because the research study commences with a research problem and terminates with empirical measurement, analysis and evaluation of data (Nardi, 2003).
This research is an empirical study on the impacts of NCLB Act in reducing the Achievement Gaps on pupil of Latin and African American origin. Data will be collected from specific elementary schools within the various states within US (Obson, 1997).
There will also be a collection of background data on various demographic variables, social and economic factors and other information that is pertinent towards assessing the effectiveness of NCLB in reducing the achievement gaps in the United States education.
The choice of states will be based on a random basis depending on accessibility and states that have high populations of African Americans and Latinos. (Patten, 2009)
Proposed data collection methods
Data collection is a significant requirement for the success of any social research since it determines the success of the research in terms of facilitating the inference of conclusions. This implies that research should significantly rely on statistical data since it deploys a probabilistic approach to offer a rational explanation to the ways things are currently in the social context.
Primary research involves the data acquisition based on first-hand information by the researcher. This will be carried out through the use of questionnaire and semi-structured interviews which will be based on a one-on-one approach with the respondent.
Primary data sources serves as an effective method of carrying out a research because the information gathered is usually raw and has not been manipulated, this in turn increases the accuracy of the research study. The various ways of gathering primary data that will be used during the research include questionnaires, focus groups and unstructured interviews.
Data analysis is an essential phase in research because it is used to infer conclusions. The research findings will provide a framework for agreement or refute of the already formulated hypothesis (Rubin & Babbie, 2008). The data collected during the research will entail both qualitative and quantitative data.
This implies that both inferential and descriptive statistics will be used to arrive at the conclusion (Ruane, 2005). Descriptive statistics in research usually serve to summarize and describe data through the use of quantities such as percentage, proportion, mean, mode, mode and other descriptive statistical quantities.
Inferential statistics on the other hand will be used to make generalization on the sample population; it will generally entail the use of statistical tests such as variance, chi-square, standard deviation and other statistical test variables (Mills, 2008). The data gathered will be stored in a database, after which data analysis software such as SPSS will be used for conducting a detailed analysis on the data.
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