Rebuttal Argument- Brianne Waters

Leaving Children Behind, One Law At A Time

The No Child Left Behind Act was created in order to standardize the education system as a whole and provide equal opportunity education to children who are economically or mentally disadvantaged. Creators of this legislation hoped to improve education nationwide and also close the gap between poverty stricken school districts and those more fortunate. The topic of education concerns students, their parents, teachers, and administrators which has caused an outpouring of both positive and negative opinions on its policies. While some praise No Child Left Behind’s achievements of higher test scores and higher scoring schools in poverty areas, most are able to look past these “accomplishments” and see that the act is preventing students from receiving a quality broad-scoped education and hurting the poor students it attempted to help.

A Gallup Poll from August 2009, stated that 21 percent of adults who were familiar with it believed that the education received by public school students has “been made better” by the No Child Left Behind Act. These adults must have seen the early results of No Child Left Behind. When first enacted, reading scores from Latinos and African Americans raised by about 15 percent. This is great and speaks to the true essence behind what NLCB wanted to achieve. However, these increases have slowed or halted in many cases. Scores are not increasing at the same pace as at the start of the standardized tests which causes more schools to be deemed as “failing” by the NLCBA.

Policy makers have not paid much attention to the many shortfalls of the No Child Left Behind Act due to bigger issues at hand such as the nation’s poor economy and the War in Iraq. Our children’s future needs to start taking top priority in Washington, and this begins with ratifying NCLB. According to the Washington Post, recently President Obama has been issuing pardons to certain states that will not be able to “make the grade” before the deadline set by NLCB. This kind of action is a great example of what needs to be done by law makers regarding this law.

Many people believe that granting schools and teachers more money for higher test scores is a good idea.  If a school is not achieving the right goals, then it is punished by not receiving funds from the state. No Child Left Behind was created in order to shorten the quality education gap between students in poverty-stricken areas and students in better parts of the country. If these schools do not perform to the correct standards, they lose funding. This puts them at an even bigger disadvantage. It increases the exact gap that the legislation was attempting to close. Education in grades K through 12 is tough to put a price tag on. An entire school or single teacher cannot be defined by test scores.

A teacher’s salary should not depend on the performance of their students on standardized tests because there is so many more aspects of teaching. Some people believe that educating is like any other job; if you do nice work, you get a raise. These people argue that all jobs work that way and teaching should too. If there is a class of students that is unwilling to learn or try, then their test scores will reflect that lack of effort, despite all efforts of a teacher. The teacher may be one of the best in the state, but if the students are not willing to try to succeed, the teacher will be punished by the reflection of bad test scores. The test scores of students cannot dictate the salaries and job security of teachers because teaching hold too many mysterious variables such as difficulty of standardized tests and students’ willingness to learn.

Schools depend on state funding to uphold programs that help other aspects of life and learning besides just math and reading. Our students need extracurricular activities and school subjects aside from math and reading. Schools who do not meet requirements are losing funding and therefore being forced to remove such programs. It is not fair to our children to prevent such important aspects of a broad, quality education due to performance on a state-mandated test.

In an article written by Dr. Nancy Harriman, students were interviewed about their knowledge and opinions of No Child Left Behind. When asked if schools should be accountable for test scores, 89 percent of them said no. Students commented by expressing concerns of teachers doing their best to teach but some students not caring or working hard. Students were then asked if students try harder on the standardized tests, with over half of them saying yes, but many spoke to the stress that the tests put on them. They believed that students would over-work themselves believing that their score affected their entire school. The nerves cost students to blank out once they see the test. These students had all the right opinions about NLCB. They are the ones going through all the testing and teaching. They are the ones being affected so they are the ones we need to be listening to. These laws are created by men and women who study education, legislation, and the numbers and statistics behind these things. They are not the ones being put through rigorous tests. Legislators need to consider the opinions of the students before changing how they learn and how their education is measured.

Education is the key to success. With this being the case, we cannot expect our children to succeed with the education system we have in place today. Performance-based funding has caused significant budget cuts to many “failing” school districts. The successes of NLCB came early and were not big enough to validate the continuation of this legislature. A Gallup poll stated that 43 percent of all Americans believed that NLCB should “keep the act, but make major revisions.” That number would be even higher if citizens knew the many shortfalls of NLCB. They would realize that education is more than a test score, and that students need to be given a better chance with a better education system.

“Perceptions of Students and Educators on the Impact of No Child Left Behind: Some Will and Some Won’t”. Nancy E. Harriman, Ph.D. 14 April 2013. Web.

“No Child Left Behind Rated More Negatively Than Positively” gallup.com. Lydia Saad. 15 April 2013. Web.

“Americans Lean Toward Revising No Child Left Behind.” gallup.com Jeffery M. Jones. 15 April 2013. Web.

“The quiet overturn of No Child Left Behind.” The Washington Post. 19 July 2012.  Michael Gerson. 16 April 2013. Web.

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One Response to Rebuttal Argument- Brianne Waters

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Brianne!
    P1. In order to in order to?
    Do you mean provide them economically and mentally? Or do you mean provide them to children who are economically and mentally disadvantaged?
    Gaps aren’t short or long. Intervals are. Gaps are narrow or wide.
    “Education affects”: see Try to Say Something.

    Overall, you have a strong plan for this introduction, Brianne. You identify 1) the goals of NCLB, 2) constituents who might favor it, 3) possible objections (presumably those you will make yourself).

    Vagueness in your three components weaken each of them.
    1) “provide equal opportunity education”
    2) “affects students, et. al.” “have weighed in on the subject”
    3) “preventing overall quality” “really only hurting”

    Improve these by making them more specific.

    P2. You start strong and then lose me here, Brianne.
    1) Scores went up for target groups: good.
    2) Improvements evaporated: good.
    3) Schools are backsliding? Or the criteria have changed? Or everyone is improving but not these target groups comparatively?
    4) Enforcement, implementation, accountability, test scoring? What’s been pushed to the back burner? Are schools dropping the program?
    5) Schools are “taking an incomplete”: good or bad?
    6) The government will change the program? What does that mean?
    7) What kind of action do you mean?

    Are you arguing here that NCLB is a well-designed program that showed good results early when it had robust momentum, which it has lost but could regain?

    Or do you want to argue that the program is essentially flawed and focuses too much attention on superficial scores, too little on core educational principles?

    P3. This argument, that denying funding to underperforming schools worsens the performance gap, is precisely right and very persuasive, Brianne. Is it a fundamental flaw that needs to be changed? Wouldn’t it be just as bad to reverse the funding stream, effectively rewarding underperformers for bad test scores?

    Your paragraph contains at least three themes and needs to be split into separate arguments.
    1) money for schools and programs
    2) teacher compensation linked to test scores
    3) spending on non-core competencies

    Each would benefit from a paragraph of its own.

    P4. You can’t “disagree” with a question, Brianne. They may have disagreed with the statement: Schools should be held accountable for test scores.

    This is a fascinating argument I’ve heard nowhere else. It’s wonderful to include the opinions of the students themselves. The certainly wouldn’t feel stressed about a standardized test if their teachers and administrators hadn’t made them feel their performance could ruin the school. 🙂 This would be stronger if you interviewed a young student yourself and got a similar indication. Then you’d be more entitled to your personal reflection that: These are the constituents who matter the most!

    P5. “Funding schools based off of their test scores is causing major problems with budgets in many school districts.” First, lose the “based off of,” please. Then provide a vivid example. It sounds reasonable, but testimony from a beleaguered high school principal in a failing district would be much more convincing.

    You haven’t proved the “negative effects” sufficiently to draw this conclusion.

    You always do strong, serious, competent work, Brianne. There’s plenty here to work with and a good foundation for improvement.

    Graded provisionally; revise to improve grade.

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