The No Child Left Behind Act has a lot of advantages for students with disabilities on the one hand and it has some obstacles which don’t allow these students to have a qualified education on the other hand. The No Child Left Behind Act is the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which was adopted in 2001. This act aims at the improving American educational system with the help of reforms. Unlike the previous acts, this one caters to different groups of students paying attention to the students with learning disabilities. One of the main goals of this act is “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a highly-quality education” (Children with Disabilities under No Child Left Behind: Myths and Realities, 2002). There are new requirements for assessments, standards, parental involvement, and accountability. According to the latest statistics, there are 6.1 million students with learning disabilities in America who need a special approach to education.
This Act makes the standards of assessments between ordinary students and students with learning disabilities equal. Most students with learning disabilities are able to follow the general educational standards. Students with disabilities are deliberately included in the No Child Left Behind act as far as they need peculiar attention. Some students need a peculiar attitude and accommodations. When all the necessary factors are taken into account and the accommodation is provided, they are able to be taught according to the standard educational program keeping up with their peers. For example, blind students should have books printed in a special type which is called Braille. When student is supplied with books printed in Braille, they are able to participate in the educational process at the same level as their classmates do.
More than that, according to the latest statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Education the most students have disabilities that are not connected with intellectual or cognitive abilities (Children with Disabilities under No Child Left Behind: Myths and Realities, 2002). There are only 13 categories of disabilities mentioned in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which presuppose a creation of a special educational program. There are not any intellectual or cognitive impairments (emotional disturbance, speech impairments, hearing disabilities, specific learning disabilities, orthopedic impairments, deaf-blindness, autism, and other health impairments) in nine of these categories (Children with Disabilities under No Child Left Behind: Myths and Realities, 2002). According to the statistics of the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS), 86,5% are children that do not correspond to the intellectual impairments and 13,4% are those who include cognitive impairments. Many students who belong to the other four categories (mental retardation, developmental delay, multiple disabilities, and traumatic brain injury) are also able to study without accommodations and modifications. Students with disabilities should be treated as their ordinary peers. It helps them not to feel humiliated and deprived. Teachers should have the high expectations from the students with disabilities the same they expect from their ordinary peers. If students with disabilities are not included in the accountability system, they will feel completely forgotten and invisible (Meier, 2004).
Nevertheless, many teachers have another point of view on this factor. They think that it is unfair to assess the students with disabilities according to the general educational standards as far as their poor results may hurt their fragile self-esteem. According to the, No Child Left Behind Act children with disabilities should be treated like other students. It concerns not only teachers but also other students. They are imposed on students with mild to moderate disabilities by expecting them to do things that ‘normal’ kids do. The students with disabilities should feel their necessity and importance in the process of study. It is more difficult for them to study when all people treat them as ill people who are not able to do something. They will not be able to express all their talents and skills during the education when they are not provided such a chance. That is why the No Child Left Behind Act takes into account this factor and recommends using the same educational program and the system of assessment for normal students as well as for disabled ones except some categories which need a special attitude (Hayes, 2002).
As we can see, the No Child Behind Act has a lot of advantages and disadvantages especially if it concerns students with disabilities. This act has changed the attitude of teachers as well as the classmates to the students with disabilities. They should be treated as normal students but they should be supplied with the necessary modification and accommodation to have success in their studies. Such a new attitude is considered to be useful as far as it allows students with disabilities to feel themselves as healthy and ordinary children. Nevertheless, such a new approach is judged by many teachers who think that students with disabilities need a special attitude and educational program and they should be taught in another way. Although this act has a lot of critics and imposes many students with mild to moderate disabilities expecting from them the same as from the ordinary students, it was signed and practiced in many American schools (White, 2001).
Children with Disabilities under No Child Left Behind: Myths and Realities. (2002). National Association of Protection and Advocacy systems.
Hayes, K. (2002). The No Child Left Behind Act: Ensuring that Students with Disabilities Receive a High-Quality Education. U.S. Department of Education.
Meier, D. (2004). Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act Is Damaging Our Children and Our Schools? USA: Trade Paper.
White, D. (2001). Pros & Cons of the No Child Left Behind Act. U.S. Liberal Politics. Web.