No Child Left Behind

While riding a wave of political bipartisan support in early 2002, President George W. Bush signed legislation that sought to massively remedy the woeful shape of America’s educational outcomes. Popularly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), this law established a variety of federal standards to help every American child reach minimum levels of “proficiency” in the basic areas of reading and math. Although NCLB was initially greeted with high hopes from both sides of the political aisle, with the passing of time these expectations have quickly soured.

The sour feelings toward NCLB are not without merit, however, for many of the law’s foundational principles have produced several unintended ill-effects. For instance, the emphasis on raising test scores of struggling students has caused higher achieving students to be neglected and unchallenged, and the emphasis on basic skills of reading and math have caused other important subjects such as history to be pushed aside. In addition to these consequences, the low levels of academic improvement and the high pressure stakes of NCLB have inadvertently encouraged states to set their standards lower and lower in order to maintain a good appearance and standing in the sight of the federal government.

Despite the failings of NCLB, our educational system is still maneuvering through its standards and expectations, and many agree that NCLB is probably here to stay. In light of this fact, this library section seeks to explore the history behind NCLB, its growth and progress, and its many negative and positive aspects. This section also presents a variety of ideas and ways in which NCLB can be reformed and used to better the educational system in a free and prosperous society.

Show More

More About This Topic...

Click thumbnails below to view links

Quote Page

Commentary or Blog Post

"I asked Fulton County high school teacher Jordan Kohanim to write a piece about what she wanted for her students this year. Jordan joined forces with fellow Centennial High School English teachers Larken McCord and Cathy Rumfelt to write a powerful letter about their goals for their students and for all students. School resumes in Fulton County on Monday

Here is their combined effort....

This article describes the various contentions and diverse viewpoints that have arisen over the implementation of No Child Left Behind. While the NCLB Act originally had wide margins of bipartisan support, the passage of time...

"At the GOP's convention in St. Paul, there was little mention of the administration's signature initiative. The new party platform doesn't reference NCLB and instead includes a new section - 'reviewing the federal role in elementary and secondary education' - signaling that Republicans intend to return to conservative principles. The platform calls for giving federal education funds to the...

"No Child Left Behind (NCLB) turned 10 yesterday, and the anniversary is a good time to assess the toll of federal education intervention and to identify steps Congress can take now toward restoring constitutional governance in education."

This article reports on the Obama administration's recent attempts to revamp No Child Left Behind. According to Burke, Obama's reform plans argue for more state control over school standards and an extension...

According to Rick Hess, the accountability standards laid out in NCLB have enabled individual states to determine their own scholastic achievement levels. Some states have taken...

According to McCluskey, dissatisfaction over inadequate achievement gains under No Child Left Behind was the principle motivator in causing South Carolina to lower its academic standards. This incident in South Carolina is a perfect demonstration of one of the most...

According to Jay Ambrose, NCLB has helped to improve academic achievement levels for children in America. Written during the midst of the 2008 presidential election campaign, this article notes that both Barack Obama and John McCain approved of the NCLB legislation, but that both...

This article weighs the pros and cons of NCLB. On the positive side, Chester Finn reports that No Child Left Behind has helped to improve test scores for disadvantaged and minority students. On the negative side, NCLB has inadvertently encouraged lower state standards, and in the process has...

According to Rick Hess, the reauthorization of NCLB greatly relies on public perception and opinion of its methods. Due to the relatively small amount of information on NCLB's public opinion levels, Hess seeks to determine the public's true feelings toward this...

"After being buffeted by Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections, White House aides saw education as ripe for bipartisan cooperation. Both parties wanted to address complaints about the No Child Left Behind law. Congress seemed prepared to act.

But while the White House talked up cooperation in public, in private it was preparing Plan B. In December that year, Education...

Given the increasing role of federal government in education through NCLB, Dan Lips advocates for the A-PLUS Act, a piece of legislation that would return more educational control to...

According to Rep. Scott Garrett, "NCLB entirely missed the mark." Instead of simply "fiddling around the edges" of NCLB to make it a little better, Rep. Garrett suggests that a whole new program be inaugurated. Rep. Garrett's...

According to George Clowes, No Child Left Behind demands that "school districts to put a 'highly qualified' teacher in every classroom." This requirement stems from the idea that better teachers...

"Back in 2001, when the federally mandated No Child Left Behind initiative became law, most educators knew it would only be a matter of time.

Whether it was two years down the line or 10 years down the line, their school would almost certainly be impacted by sanctions stemming from the lofty initiative, which calls for all students to be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by...

This piece seeks to answer what Finn views as five common myths about NCLB. According to Finn, NCLB is not "an unprecedented extension of federal control over schools," nor is it "egregiously underfunded." This short article helps to bring rational clarity to the...

Chart or Graph

This chart traces the NAEP eighth grade reading scores for a variety of states and demonstrates that many are unable to reach the NAEP level of "proficiency." The chart is described in more depth below:

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2002 and was touted as a massive initiative to boost test scores in reading and math.

Analysis Report White Paper

In this piece, Cheri Yecke traces the origins of NCLB and describes the various ramifications it holds for individual states like Minnesota. Overall, Yecke seems to applaud the accountability efforts of NCLB, but she notes that a variety of changes would increase the law's effectiveness and workability for states, teachers, and students.

According to Schaffer and Hoekstra, conservative legislators lost their way when they threw their weight behind the federal education policy of No Child Left Behind. Schaffer and Hoekstra encourage a return to state control of education and specifically urge practices that place education decisions in the hands of parents.

This paper exposes the failures of NCLB in regards to boosting academic achievement scores. According to the authors, the creators of NCLB attempted to please two polar opposite political ideologies in its formation, and as a result, NCLB was doomed to failure from the start.

In this report, Lawrence Uzzell condemns the increased role of the federal government through the education policies of No Child Left Behind. Uzzell chronicles the many instances of fraud and abuse that NCLB’s policies have inadvertently encouraged school leaders to pursue.

Published shortly after No Child Left Behind was signed into law, this report compiles a variety of scholarly viewpoints and opinions on the implications and effects that NCLB would have on students, teachers, and states.

Krista Kafer provides an excellent analysis of the past, present, and future of the NCLB Act in this piece. Although the original plans for NCLB contained positive reform ideas such as school choice, they were quickly eliminated, and according to Kafer, NCLB became a more bloated and bureaucratic version of the ESEA of 1965.

"Collectively, these states and districts provide a case study in how determined states can undermine even tightly constructed laws like NCLB. And, as importantly, they provide a cautionary tale for members of Congress working to write the next version of the nation's most important education law."

This piece lays out the background behind the implementation of No Child Left Behind. According to Hess and Petrilli, NCLB was the result of bipartisan collaboration and combined the school reform ideas of the Right with the racial equity ideas of the Left.

This piece offers sensible resolutions for conservatives who believe they ended up with the short end of the rope in regards to No Child Left Behind. The authors of this piece describe how NCLB was created, specifically implying that conservatives were duped into accepting many key education policies which were traditionally touted by liberals.

This report looks into the choice aspect of NCLB and discovers that it is often neglected and overlooked by many schools and parents. The authors of this piece seek to discover the reasons behind this problem and suggest that schools are not doing their duty in informing parents of their options.

Video/Podcast/Media

"Eric Hanushek of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the current state of education and education policy. Hanushek summarizes the impact of No Child Left Behind and the current state of the charter school movement. Along the way, he and Roberts discuss the role of testing as a way of measuring achievement. The...

This podcast briefly answers many of the main questions about NCLB. Neal McCluskey explains the mindset of the Democrats and Republicans who originally passed the NCLB law, and then goes on to explain why many in these same parties have now turned against it. McCluskey also gives insight into why NCLB is not working and suggests several...

According to Neal McCluskey, "NCLB has been one big deception." In this podcast, McCluskey describes how many states are outwardly meeting the goals and expectations of NCLB. Inwardly, however, many states are lowering their own academic standards and trying to get by with the least amount of effort in hopes that NCLB will be obsolete by the time its expectations...

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is long overdue for reauthorization, and pressure is mounting to get it done before NCLB labels the vast majority of our schools as failures.

This short documentary describes the perceived successes and failures of No Child Left Behind. According to many of the teachers interviewed by CBS News, NCLB is a good program that is challenging both teachers and children to attain higher academic levels. Many teachers report that the extra funding that NCLB provides is the true reason why the controversial...

"The No Child Left Behind Act was meant to compel states to adopt high standards and rapidly improve K-12 education in public schools. It is now clear that NCLB has been a failure and has set the stage for even greater federal control over curriculum. The solution, contrary to what many advocates claim, is to get the federal government out of America's classrooms. Neal McCluskey, associate...

This video focuses on one of the more progressive objections to NCLB by criticizing the standards that it enforces on children and teachers. According to the individuals in this clip, NCLB focuses far too much on "teaching the test," and hence, fails to encourage proper development and learning in children.

Primary Document

"I was pleased to learn on February 9 that Minnesota is among the 10 states selected to receive Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility. We applaud President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius for their advocacy and leadership in moving toward a meaningful system of school improvement accountability."

"Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), states are required to report the percentages of students achieving proficiency in reading and mathematics for grades 3 through 8. For each subject and grade combination, the percentages vary widely across states. For grades 4 and 8, these percentages can be compared to the estimated percentages of students achieving proficiency with respect to the...

No Child Left Behind is a descendant of "The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965." Its opening lines describe it as "An Act [t]o close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind."

In his last policy speech as the President of the United States, President Bush addressed a group of people on the effects of his landmark education bill No Child Left Behind. Ever an enthusiastic supporter of NCLB, President Bush used...

In his speech celebrating the signing of the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush stated that "[t]he fundamental principle of this bill is that every child can learn, we expect every child to learn, and you must show us whether or not every child is learning." This speech mentions the key players in the passage of NCLB, and also outlines the four main...

In this speech, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urges his audience to put political differences aside and invest in education through the reauthorization of ESEA, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. Duncan acknowledges the...

In this testimony, Chicago's public school CEO and future education secretary Arne Duncan describes the education advances made under NCLB. According to Duncan, Chicago's public schools made commendable progress under NCLB,...

In this testimony, Lisa Keegan speaks in favor of the reform policies that No Child Left Behind advocates. Keegan specifically speaks to the funding issues of NCLB, noting that many of the funds allotted to the program were not even being spent. As...

Books

Link

Engage

Click thumbnails below to view links

Online

Become a fan of Intellectual Takeout on Facebook!
Share Intellectual Takeout with friends, family, and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter!
At Intellectual Takeout, we think it's about time freedom went viral. Before our generation is the opportunity to embrace freedom, to unleash each individual's potential, and to have a prosperous future. And yet it seems that almost everyone running our cities, states, and federal government is intent on destroying freedom and burying us in debt to pay for it. If you, like us, believe that...
Education history in America is important to know. ITO traces how education has changed from the colonial period to present day America.
While many documentaries on the education system focus on various examples of failure, "Flunked" takes a bit different tack. While certainly acknowledging and exposing the failures of the system, "Flunked" also seeks out individuals and approaches that ARE working in education. The hope is that these points of hope may serve as examples for others working in education.  Here's the trailer:...
In the genre of documentaries revealing the problems with public education, "Kids Aren't Cars" focuses on helping us understand how schools are modeled after a factory system and what we need to do to change them. Understandably, treating kids as if they are a product to be manufactured has had detrimental effects on children going through the system and the overall level of education in America...
"Many parents and taxpayers feel helpless because the problems can seem so monumental. 'Kids Aren't Cars' director Kyle Olson reviews what he learned in the filmmaking process and the small things individuals can do that will add up to make a big difference." Here's Kyle being interviewed on a few things you can do and share with friends, family, and educators: Part 1Part 2
Okay, so your friends and family keep telling you to jump on the social media bandwagon, but you have no idea what the fuzz is about. Here’s the deal: The Internet gives liberty-loving folk like us an opportunity we have never had before: to make the case for individual liberty, limited government and free market economics instantly and globally. But with the vast amounts of information...

Offline

Curiously, not a few individuals are realizing that their education (K-12 and even college) neglected to provide them with as much understanding of the world as they would like. At Intellectual Takeout, we believe that however you feel about your education, there is still much to be learned. To that end, we'd like to refer you to one book and a collection of "study guides" that serve as...
Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your...
Sure, the idea of homeschooling is likely overwhelming. Indeed, homeschooling is a big commitment and a lot of work. That said, there's a reason why more and more parents are turning to homeschooling as the best option for their child(ren)'s education(s). Perhaps you are starting to realize that the public school system has changed a lot since you last attended it. Maybe you can't afford private...
Let's face it, most of us love to watch TV and movies. A wonderful way to spread ideas is to embrace our love of the cinema by hosting a movie night with friends and family.  There are numerous documentaries that do a fantastic job of sharing the ideas of liberty. You can pull a small group of friends together at your house or even consider asking a local restaurant or tavern to let you...
While there are a variety of really good documentaries about the failing public school systems in America, "The Cartel" stands alone in its frontal assault on the teacher unions, particularly those in New Jersey. If you'd like to get an inside look into how some teacher unions operate and the effects they have on education, you'll want to watch "The Cartel."From the movie's website: "This movie...
Another movie that tells the story of the failing public school model in the United States is “The Lottery”. It takes its own unique look at the systems by focusing on the use of lotteries to choose which children will be plucked from failing public schools and put into more successful public charter schools. Here’s the trailer:  You can watch the whole movie right now with the help of Hulu...
Watch "Waiting for Superman" to learn about the problems with the public education system.
Looking for an internship? If so, Intellectual Takeout has an opportunity for you. We have plenty of work to do as well as ideas to spread, and we need your help to get it done. If you're interested in an internship with Intellectual Takeout, you likely share our passion and you're excited about the possibility of working for a great cause. That said, you might have a few questions about what "...
How often do you hear conservatives being called a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals? Here's the reality: Conservatism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism have a rich, intellectual heritage reaching back many millennia. Our ideas are not just some historical relics from bygone eras; they are the very foundation of Western Civilization in general, amd the United States in particular....
Sadly (or happily for some), life goes on after college. So does the fight for freedom. Building friendships, networking, and growing the movement is critical after college. If our ideas are to be preserved and promoted, you need to stay involved. Plus, in a time when the individual seems to be ever more isolated and adrift, these groups can help plug you into social networks you can use....
Okay, so we don't expect you to drive a wooden stake into your flat screen. Plus, we're total hypocrites since we watch some TV. But here's the point: People waste a ton of time watching TV. If you're cool with government taking over your future, than keep watching Dancing with the Stars. If you consider yourself to be a free man or woman and want to live in a free society, then watch what you...
A great way to make a difference on your campus by spreading the ideas of individual rights, limited government, and free markets is to tutor. Plus, you can occasionally make a little bit of money. Depending on the subject matter, you will be discussing a variety of ideas, key thinkers, and theories. As anyone who has tutored knows, there are almost always opportunities to expand upon a topic....
In a highly regulated society such as ours, it's very easy to get yourself in trouble with the law. Learn more about how to protect yourself with the 5th Amendment and how to interact with the police.
The Association of American Educators (AAE) advances the teaching profession through personal growth, professional development, teacher advocacy and protection, as well as promoting excellence in education so that our members receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve.

On Campus

Now that you're at college and the initial excitement has worn off, maybe you're thinking that the course selection is a bit biased and you'd like some options. So how do you (the consumer) get the college (the business) to change up its offerings? It certainly won't be easy. Nevertheless it's something that should be done--particularly since you're footing the bill. A good, education in a free...
Whatever activism you choose to do on campus, you need to get your story out. A popular tactic used by the Left is to isolate and intimidate freedom-loving students. You're not alone and there are a lot of people in your city, state, and country that can probably support your efforts. They just need to know what is happening. Whenever you can, record in-class bias, discrimination against...
The reality is that most students (and people for that matter) won't speak out. It's called human nature and it was recognized in the Declaration of Independence: "...all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." While you might feel alone when debating a teacher,...
If you're not happy with the direction of the country and you want to take back your future, at some point you will have to do something. It's not enough to just know that we're going in the wrong direction. You actually have to step out and get involved. Most college campuses have conservative and libertarian student groups. Find one of them to join. Below is a list of some of the larger non-...
When it comes to campus life injustices, student fees rank high on any list. On most campuses across the country a mandatory student fee is assessed to each student at the beginning of the year. A portion of this fee, which may be several hundred dollars, will go toward funding various political, religious, and interest groups.  A college requiring you to support groups espousing ideas which...
In the land of the free and the home of the brave, speech codes are a particularly odious example of politically correct repression on many a college campus. In some ways, college campuses are the least free places for thinking and speech in America. Your best friend for fighting your school's repressive speech codes is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Here's a short clip...
Running for office isn't easy, even in college. Not everyone is cut out for it, either. For those of you who are, this completely non-partisan section is for you. If you are inclined to pursue student government, we're not going to spend time on telling you how to get elected. A good place to go for ideas and training is CampusReform.org. Rather, we want to help you in office, as a believer in...
We've built Intellectual Takeout to provide you with quick, easy access to information. In time, we hope to become your one-stop-shop for the ideas of freedom. If your professor allows you to bring your laptop to class (if not, you can use an iPhone), we recommend keeping a tab open to Intellectual Takeout. As we continue to generate new content on the site, you will be able to fact check the...