The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 is considered to be the most comprehensive and highly scrutinized piece of educational legislation that has been enacted in history. With its focus on core academic content areas, the CTE community has desired to understand its impact on CTE programs. Based on a review of the recent literature on NCLB and CTE, this chapter examines the primary NCLB legislation provisions, presents the issues and challenges that have manifested as a result of the enactment of NCLB, investigates its impact on CTE, and assesses the coordination of NCLB and the new Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006. This chapter concludes with solutions and recommendations for further research.
U.S. federal legislation has influenced educational objectives and ignited school reform since the 1950s (Umpstead, 2008). Historically, U.S. students have not always had equal access or equal rights to an education. In fact, gaining an education in the U.S. was predicated on an individual’s race, ability, or gender while individual states were granted control for policy implementation (Hardman & Dawson, 2008). More inclusive educational policies were not crafted until the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was written, the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was promulgated, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 was instated. In 1954, the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education case decision was one of the most profound events in American history, particularly for education (Blanchett, Mumford, & Beachum, 2005). That case determined that education would be equal for all citizens and that segregation in schools denied individuals of their constitutional rights. In addition, the Brown v. Board of Education case overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” policy.
During Johnson’s administration, Title I of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 was enacted with the intent of providing incentives to motivate states and local school districts to provide services for schools with large groups of educationally and financially disadvantaged students (McDonnell, 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Contextual Teaching and Learning: A conception of teaching and learning in which educators relate the content area to real-world applications.
Tracking: Grouping students in terms of their ability levels. Students are tracked into three types of curricula: (a) college preparatory, (b) general, and (c) career and technical education.
High Stakes-Assessments: Standardized assessments that impose consequences on students that do not meet an acceptable proficiency level. These consequences may include: (a) grade retention; (b) not being promoted to another grade level; or (c) not earning a high school diploma.
Career and Technical Education Concentrators: Students that participate in CTE courses by taking three credits in a particular occupational area.
Adequate Yearly Progress: The ability of schools to meet state performance improvement levels every three years.
Core Academic Areas: Content areas defined by NCLB as English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, history, civics, government, geography, economics, the arts, and foreign language.
Academic Achievement Gap: The disparity among Caucasian students and underrepresented ethnic groups such as African-American and Hispanic students based on academic performance.
Highly Qualified: A term NCLB utilizes to determine teacher quality. To be highly qualified, a teacher must meet the following criteria: (a) be licensed in the content area(s) in which they teach; (b) have earned a bachelor’s degree; and (c) have demonstrated competence, usually by a standardized content area assessment.