Is No Child Left Behind improving U.S. education?
The George W. Bush administration enacted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002, establishing national standards-based tests to improve educational outcomes. It was meant to increase teacher accountability while improving teaching quality. But, has it made progress toward improving U.S. education?
Results of No Child Left Behind
NCLB established testing and reporting requirements in reading and math for grades three, eight and high school for groups of students. A key goal was to have all U.S. public school children proficient in those subjects by 2014. Unfortunately, this lofty goal is not being met.
A 2010 report by the Center for Education Policy (CEP) showed that the number of schools that did not meet their NCLB “Adequate Yearly Progress” goals increased. In 2007, 72 percent of schools met their goals, 28 percent did not; in 2010, it was 38 percent that did not meet the goals. In the CEP report, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan projected that failings would skyrocket. “We did an analysis which shows that next year the number of schools not meeting their goal under NCLB could double to over 80 percent — even if we assume that all schools will gain as much as the top quartile of the state,” says Duncan.
Jonathan Lewis, MAEd, University of Phoenix College of Education faculty and staff member, explains why school success rates are dropping. “NCLB did raise the standard for becoming a teacher. That was a good thing, but the negative is that school and teacher success was pegged to student achievement and, with each passing year, the standards were becoming more severe so it was harder to meet increasingly rigorous standards.”