ESEA 1965 became part of a long history of over forty federal acts related to education through to the present (Kimmelman, 2006). While all of these acts were designed to improve the delivery of education, to ensure equitable educational opportunities and standardization, the more recent of them (No Child Left Behind) have aroused controversy. In essence, NCLB, among others, has been interpreted as federal intervention in state affairs. As this brief reflection will argue, however, the said intervention has the potential to be highly constructive insofar as it centralises the accountability factor.
One of the fundamental roles of government is to provide for its citizenry, so that its citizens can provide for themselves and their families without being subsidized and risk becoming socially undesirable adults. In schools, principals and guidance counsellors tend to refer to this missive as preparing students, to become productive members of society. This focus continues to spawn various enactments of laws (Sunderman et al., 2005; Kimmelman, 2006). The Improving Americas Schools Act of 1994 (IASA) which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) had a renewed focus which was supposed to change the delivery of education, encourage comprehensive school reform, upgrade instructional and professional development and promote accountability and coordinate resources to improve education to all children was not successful. Eight years after its reauthorization, on January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush, signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This new law effectuates the Reauthorization of ESEA 1965 with a lifespan of six years. The federal government has now given states another six years to fix the damaged public school education system (Sunderman et al., 2005).
As evidenced from the preceding, the primary focus of the described Acts is testing results. As Hess (2007) explains, NCLB emphasises the
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