Indiana

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Study: No Child Left Behind May Benefit Teachers

No Child Left Behind, the law that holds states and schools accountable for for student performance, is regarded by many as a negative component of public education today.

Most teachers think No Child Left Behind legislation actually makes their work easier, researchers found.

Most teachers think No Child Left Behind legislation actually makes their work easier, researchers found.

A study released Tuesday through the American Educational Research Association says the law may benefit teachers.

Most teachers think the law actually makes their work easier, researchers found. Educators report feeling more in control of their classrooms, more supported by parents and school administrators, and overall more satisfied with their jobs since the law took hold.

Studies also find that NCLB has made teachers better at what they do, leading them to devote more classroom time to core subjects and spend more time searching for better instructional strategies. And researchers say the correlation to improve student performance makes sense.

“It is unlikely that NCLB could affect student learning without affecting the learning environment, including instruction,” the report states.

It’s not all fun and games, though. The study also found teachers reported working longer hours since NCLB came into play, and perceived less cooperation with fellow educators. Many also say the law has forced them to “teach to the test.”

Researchers say they don’t expect the law itself had too much of an impact on these trends.

“It really wasn’t [there],” said Sean Nicholson-Crotty, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “We didn’t find a lot of causal impact from NCLB, but when we did, it was in the opposite direction than the pundits would suggest.”

A chart from the report titled "Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on  Teachers’ Work Environments and Job Attitudes."

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Report (AERA)

A chart from the report titled “Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers’ Work Environments and Job Attitudes.”

The study compared results from different annual versions of the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey. Researchers looked at K-12 teachers’ responses to questions about how long they worked, how supported the felt, and how committed they felt to the profession, both before and after NCLB took effect.

The survey itself did not specifically mention NCLB – and Nicholson-Crotty says it’s probably better that way.

“Mentioning the law itself probably introduces some bias,” Nicholson-Crotty says. “If you really want to know how they feel, then simply asking them is the best way to go, rather than priming them with a mention of a law that has a negative public image.”

The Bush-era law, enacted in 2001, is a broad-based reform effort designed to help every American child get up to speed in basic skills like math, reading and science. It gives states control over how they measure student progress with standards and tests, but requires proof of continuous improvement toward 100 percent “proficiency.”

Along with most other states, Indiana currently has an NCLB waiver that excuses us from complying with yearly national progress goals. Instead state officials set their own goal requiring every Indiana school to earn an “A” grade, or else improve by two letter grades and be up to a “C” by 2020.

But as we’ve reported, Indiana is at risk of losing its waiver, and it’s putting all kinds of strain on the State Board of Education to tie up loose ends.

Comments

  • Jorfer88

    Even the study authors themselves recognize a lot has changed since 2008, “In addition, it is possible that NCLB is only beginning to have substantively important impacts on teachers in more recent years as states have fully implemented the law and its sanction provisions, a hypothesis future research can test as newer data become available. Before concluding, is also important to place our findings within the context of recent changes in the implementation of NCLB. In our study, school districts had good reason to believe they might lose their federal funding if they did not meet AYP benchmarks set by their state. However, in 2012, the federal government granted waivers to 11 states with a high percentage of underperforming districts, potentially lessening the stress placed on teachers and administrators by the federal policy. Of course, by that same logic, waivers might also reduce the incentive for districts and schools to provide teachers with greater autonomy in hopes of meeting AYP standards, which is one plausible explanation for our empirical finding that teachers reported greater control over their classrooms after the implementation of NCLB. However intriguing they might be, answering questions about these and other potential impacts of waivers requires that we first have an accurate understanding of the relationship between the policy as it was originally implemented and the attitudes of teachers. For that reason, the results reported in this article remain relevant and important to recent changes in NCLB implementation and help inform ongoing conversations about future reform as part of a potential reauthorization” –Page 17-18 Freely Viewable Version can be found at “Newsroom/RecentAERAResearch” of the AERA dot net website

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