No Child Left Behind Act Helps Students

As a society we spend lots of resources, time and money looking for ways to improve the quality of education in our schools. As a country, whether we are Republicans or Democrats or other, we all understand how important education is to our country and our children’s’ futures. As Presidents come into office, they realize that we have a problem with our education system and try to come up with plans to fix it but have been unsuccessful in providing a plan where no child is left behind. In 2001 President George W. Bush persuaded Congress to pass the “No Child Left Behind” act (NCLB), which created the nation’s first federal regime in education (Peterson). The core principals behind the NCLB act are that every student must reach the desired level of performance (Hoxby). No group of students: minority, disabled, poor or limited English would be left behind (Hoxby). Ideally, each student of the United States of America would have the opportunity to be taught by a well-trained educator, equipped with experience and knowledge as they deliver the curriculum to the individual needs of every student (Mayers). Despite the “No Child Left Behind” act admirable intentions, at the end of the day harmed student’s learning due to losing good teachers and administrators, states setting their standards and the focus on tests.

A central component of the NCLB act was the administration of statewide standardized tests in reading and math to all students (Maleyko). This was done for schools to receive federal funding (Hoxby). Schools would have to show Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and test scores; with a continued improvement each year the student is tested in grades 3 thru 8 (Hoxby). If the schools (AYP) tests failed beyond the 5th year, the schools were to be found failing in their responsibility in the education of the children that they were responsible for, giving the Department of Education(DOE) the right to remove the educators and replace them with new educators (Haretos). Schools continuing to have failing (AYP) test scores were in danger of being closed by DOE: (Webley) the children being the overall losers. If high-quality principals leave schools due to the pressure of probation, then it is probable that the schools have less opportunity of making improvements (Maleyko). Some highly qualified teachers were also leaving the field due to the pressures of meeting the AYP standard (Hollingworth). Students that were not at required standards were viewed as dangerous liabilities to schools, districts, and states (Mayers). The NCLB act ended up unfairly punishing groups of students for failing to meet the standards set out by the schools (Mayers).

But the truth is that even though the intentions behind the NCLB act were excellent, the law has harmed students learning. The NCLB act allowed each state to develop their own standard levels with loopholes to manipulate the test AYP test scores in order meet the achievement standards set out by DOE, to continue to receive federal funding (Mayers). The state was able to provide their interpretation of proficiency and type of test they wanted to use to demonstrate it (Hoxby). Based on AYP test data, it was found that 1.9 million students were not being included for the AYP tests averages (Maleyko), which demonstrates that there were inconsistent measurement standards in the United States (Hoxby). This produced misleading information to the public when it comes to AYP testing (Maleyko). The loopholes allowed schools to avoid declaring subgroups if there were insufficient students in a said group, which negated statistically reliable information (Maleyko). Schools were successful in negotiating side deals with the federal department of education allowing the state to exclude Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students that have been residing in the United States less than three years of being excluded from the data (Mayers). This deal was said to have spared 680 schools (Mayers). What happened to the core value of the NCLB act? The states were also given the power to lower standards to meet with AYP goals and continue to receive federal funding (Maleyko). Students were no longer able to reach their full potential as standards were lowered harming the education of students (Maleyko).

There has been evidence of some states increasing score in reading and math (Doherty), but since many subgroups weren’t counted, it makes it impossible to know how reliable these statistics are (Hoxby).

Testing to see the improvements is great, but the testing was only administered to students from grades 3rd to 8th and once while in high school (Peterson). The data is then desegregated into subgroups that included: race, gender, ethnicity, disabilities and economically disadvantaged (Mayers). Therefore, annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAO) must be identified for each subgroup, and it is through meeting or exceeding these objectives that a state may demonstrate that they are moving forward as per DOE’s requirements (Mayers). If a single subgroup within a district, school, or state did not meet AYP standard, the school district or state were considered to have failed (Hoxby). Students should be tested on what they have learned and helped where they are deficient. Putting students into subgroups is a detriment to the standard of learning for all students. Also, other areas in the curriculum that should be tested such as history, science, health and many more that were not being tested by the NCLB act suffered as schools reduced their focus on these areas (Maleyko). The focus was put exclusively on math and reading to meet the testing standards (Maleyko). Even though these areas weren’t being measured they have a tremendous impact on the quality of education of a student (Maleyko).

If our government wants to continue to make education a federal issue than the head of Department of Education should rewrite and set a national standard of learning, not allowing the states to create their own learning standards. This would close any “loopholes” (Mayers), “continue to hold schools accountable and expect results” (Doherty) under national standardized testing. Every student would be taught and instructed the same way from East to West, North to South, not in subgroups (Haretos). Education should be COLOR BLIND. The government should be sure that our children are being taught by highly qualified teachers and allowing the teachers to teach without the fear of reprisal (Hollingworth), teaching all students that are not pressed into subgroups (Haretos) but as a whole. We should continue to test kids beyond 8th grade each year thru high school (Doherty). Not testing student in their last four years of high school before they are sent out to the world could leave a student unprepared as to where they are headed. This way the test would allow the government to see where kids are according to the national standard and use the information to make sure all kids are reaching their full potential and ensuring that no student has fallen behind. And with a national standard of learning set by DOE and not the states, it would bring a new era of effective learning to our children and a new voice and meaning to “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND”. If the head of DOE fails to set a national standard of learning then we can expect the same harmful effect in our students that we have gotten since the NCLB act was signed in 2002 (Peterson) due to losing good teachers (Hollingworth) and administrators, states set their own standards(Meyers) and the focus on tests (Maleyko).

Works Cited

  • Dee, Thomas, and Brian Jacob. 'Evaluating NCLB: accountability has produced substantial gains in math skills but not in reading.' Education Next, vol. 10, no. 3, 2010, p. 54+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 1 Mar. 2019.
  • Doherty, Chris, and John Boehner. “The future of NBLB.” Education Next, vol. 5, no. 3, 2005, p. 6+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, 27 Feb.2019.
  • Haretos, Chrisanti. “The No Child Left behind Act of 2001: Is the Definition of ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ Adequate?” Harvard Kennedy School Review, vol. 6, Jan. 2005, pp. 29–46. EBSCOhost,,url&db=a9h&AN=19737510&site=ehost-live.
  • Hollingworth, Liz. 'The No Child Left Behind Act Has Widened the Achievement Gap.' The Achievement Gap, edited by Karen Miller, Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 12 Feb. 2019. Originally published as 'Unintended Educational and Social Consequences of the No Child Left Behind Act,' The Journal of Gender, Race, & Justice, 4 Apr. 2008, pp. 311-326.
  • Hoxby, Caroline M. 'Inadequate yearly progress: unlocking the secrets of NCLB.' Education Next, vol. 5, no. 3, 2005, p. 46+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.
  • Maleyko, Glenn, and Marytza A. Gawlik. 'No child left behind: what we know and what we need to know.' Education, vol. 131, no. 3, 2011, p. 600+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.
  • Mayers, Camille M. 'Public Law 107-110 No Child Left Behind act of 2001: support or threat to education as a fundamental right?' Education, vol. 126, no. 3, 2006, p. 449+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 17 Feb. 2019. Hoxby, Caroline M. 'Inadequate yearly progress: unlocking the secrets of NCLB.' Education Next, vol. 5, no. 3, 2005, p. 46+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.
  • Peterson, Paul E. 'One brainchild left behind.' Hoover Digest, no. 4, 2016, p. 138+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.
  • Webley, Kayla. “Why It’s Time to Replace No Child Left Behind.” Time, vol. 179, no. 3, Jan. 2012, pp. 40–44. EBSCOhost,,url&db=a9h&AN=70364118&site=ehost-live.
07 July 2022
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