In 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, ending the failed No Child Left Behind Law in 2015. Many have blamed the No Child Left Behind law on the failing condition of predominately Black schools due to several factors, including the strict guidelines for testing scores.
Signed by President Bush in 2002, the law mandated that students in grades 3 through 8 must be tested on their proficiency in reading and mathematics, and that those scores must be reported and categorized by different demographic groups. Individual school success is measured by Average Yearly Progress (AYP), and schools that did not meet AYP were at risk of being defunded, having students transfer, and mandatory tutoring which must be paid for by the school, to name a few. Schools even risked being taken over or turned into charter schools.
As a result of the harsh repercussions put in place by No Child Left Behind, schools felt pressure to have their students excel at the standardized tests. Teachers spent more time on math and reading, since those were the two areas students were tested on, and less time on other subjects that are also important in shaping a child’s education. Additionally, students who weren’t equipped with the skills to succeed at the tests by the third grade were eventually pushed out of their schools and put into alternative schools or “better-performing schools”. This largely affected Black students, due to the fact that Black students score lower on standardized tests than the general population, and contributed to the school to prison pipeline, being that Black students are more likely to be suspended and expelled than other students.
No Child Left Behind is one of the programs I will examine when exploring Black students’ success in predominately white schools. It appears that a number of Black students were moved to predominately white schools resulting from poor standardized test scores and I will report on how they fared.