America Ferrera

“Sometimes all you need is a good Teach(ear)! ”
—America Ferrera

Behind Every Famous Person is a Fabulous Teacher.

No Child Left Behind

What’s it all about?
Arguments in Favor
Arguments Against
FYI: Further Reading

What’s it all about?

Federal legislation enacted in 2002 (and currently up for reauthorization in 2008) that institutes comprehensive school reform, which seeks to:

Arguments in Favor:

  • According to NCLB, all schools, by law, must maintain a certain standard of excellence so that they provide the highest quality of education to our nation’s children.
  • NCLB makes it easier to identify failing schools through nation-wide or statewide standardized tests.
  • If a school scores well on the tests they are rewarded with increased funding from the government in order to build on their previous successes.

Arguments Against:

  • NCLB encourages teachers to “teach to the test” in an effort to maintain or receive increased funding.
  • The schools that are most in need of funding (for the large part in underadvantaged school districts) are often the least likely to receive funding because they score poorly on the tests due to a preexisting history of struggling students and limited resources for teachers.
  • The law as it currently stands had not been fully funded and school districts are struggling to meet the requirements of the law without sufficient financial support.

FYI: Further Reading

  • The White House website provides an overview of NCLB, including a foreword by President Bush explaining his goals for the future of public education.
  • The Center for American progress has published an article that argues for the reauthorization of NCLB. The author shows that the law has just begun to be effective and must be continued in order to reach its goal of fully reforming the public school system. He agrees that some reforms must be made, but in general, NCLB is a beneficial law that deserves a “surge” of its own.
  • The Education Trust is a national nonprofit organization which advocates for education policy on the federal level and provides aid to schools on the local level. Ed Trust supports No Child Left Behind, but suggests a series of reforms to the program.
  • The Alliance for Excellent Education is a national policy and advocacy organization that focuses on high school policies to increase graduation rates. They suggest a series of reforms to NCLB in order to generate more success for high school students.
  • FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing is an organization working to eliminate the flaws and misuses of standardized testing. They provide a series of strongly opposed opinions from various sources with many suggested reforms. 
  • The National Education Association is clear in its support of the goals that  NCLB was designed to achieve, but they list a series of reforms they wish to enact including focusing policies on a more local and individual level and being more communicative with teachers and administrators.
  • The American Federation of Teachers has a similar opinion with regard to NCLB. They support the initial objectives of NCLB, but argue that schools and teachers have been evaluated incorrectly or inadequately. They would also like to see a series of reforms implemented in the reauthorization.
  • Rethinking Schools, a publication that explores and encourages public school reform, has a series of articles that criticizes NCLB, but their most succinct article can be found here. This particular article debunks all of the claims of school improvement made by the supporters of NCLB.
  • An article from the New York Times describes how many states have been skewing their statistics on school dropout rates in order to receive more money from the federal government, in compliance with the regulations of NCLB. The article offers arguments from both sides, but is slightly slanted against the law.
  • The Nation published an article (5/2/07) from education expert, Linda Darling-Hammond, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of NCLB as well as suggestions for reforms. The article also includes responses from four other education experts.
  • “Teachers Say NCLB Has Changed Classroom Practice” (6/15/07) is an article from Education Week that focuses on teachers’ responses to NCLB, and also provides a study of the effectiveness of the change in teaching methods. This article presents both the positive and negative viewpoints of this change.
  • Blog: Swift and Change Able: Independent Commentary on the No Child Left Behind Act

    This blog provides useful information against NCLB, including statistics and presidential candidates’ policies. There is a very strong oppositional bias. 

  • NoChildLeft.com is a publication of FNO press that challenges NCLB and archives numerous articles on its website that argue to this end. The articles also cite many newspaper articles that are a great source of further reading.
  • Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging Our Children and Our Schools is an insightful resource that outlines how NCLB fits into the history and future of education policy in this country. It is a harsh critique of the law and calls for immediate reform. The book can be previewed here.

For opinions from our readers, see our “Be Counted” Poll on No Child Left Behind