Quotes on No Child Left Behind

"In a real sense, NCLB was a mighty yawp of frustration uttered by Washington policymakers tired of nicely asking educators to cooperate--and ready to ruffle some feathers."

Frederick M. Hess
Michael J. Petrilli
American Enterprise Institute
January 1, 2004
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"Politically, the attraction of the NCLB consensus was that it allowed public officials to embrace high standards and champion equal opportunity without having to prescribe uncomfortable solutions or explain exactly what strategies would enable schools to succeed. NCLB primarily sought to address the systemic and political challenges of the nation’s schools; it was designed to press state and local officials to make the hard choices needed to reinvent American education. The NCLB consensus rested on the premise that local education politics are fundamentally broken and that only strong, external pressure focused on student achievement will produce politics focused on school improvement, especially for poor and minority students. Having lived with the disappointing results of the efforts to promote accountability in the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and frustrated by the tepid results wrought by decades of school reform, policymakers thought that high standards and meaningful sanctions were essential to changing 'business as usual' schooling. They believed that school boards and superintendents would continue to be reluctant to upend dysfunctional routines or upset important constituencies, like teachers unions or affluent parents, unless pressed to do so. Ultimately, NCLB was intended to provide political cover to superintendents and school board members to encourage them to take controversial and difficult steps to root out mediocre teachers and administrators, shift resources to poorer schools, challenge collective bargaining provisions regulating teacher transfer and preventing efforts to link pay to teacher quality, and overhaul central office processes."

Frederick M. Hess
Michael J. Petrilli
Journal of Education
American Enterprise Institute
January 1, 2004
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"NCLB was based on the idea that the federal government's nine-percent stake in public-education funding could be leveraged to drive significant reform. But experience is showing again the limits (and potential dangers) of what Washington can do. …

NCLB has succeeded in one area, though: expanding federal power. Federal spending on K-12 education has increased by 41 percent since 2001. The Department of Education has been granted new powers to micromanage how states and localities run their schools. The cost of bureaucratic compliance has increased - resulting in more education dollars spent on administration than in the classroom. In all, NCLB increased the regulatory burden on state and local governments by 6.7 million hours annually - approximately $140 million."

Dan Lips
Education Notebook
The Heritage Foundation
September 15, 2008
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"…it is clear that the fundamental idea behind NCLB—improving achievement through government benchmarks and penalties for failing to meet them—is mistaken. In fact, the law is a barrier to educational improvement because it pressures states to focus on central planning and bureaucratic compliance rather than on unleashing market forces, as the scholarly research suggests should be done."

Neal McCluskey
Andrew J. Coulson
Policy Analysis, No. 599
Cato Institute
September 5, 2007
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"Despite promises from supporters that NCLB would be fundamentally different from previous federal education policies—focusing on academic outcomes rather than inputs like money, school buildings, or improved technology—it shares a critical feature with its predecessors: its ultimate design was driven chiefly by political rather than educational goals, dooming it to failure."

Neal McCluskey
Andrew J. Coulson
Policy Analysis, No. 599
Cato Institute
September 5, 2007
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"NCLB helped expand the standards and accountability movement. Today, we expect districts, principals and teachers to take responsibility for the academic performance of their schools and students. We can never let up on holding everyone accountable for student success. That is what we are all striving for."

Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
September 24, 2009
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"No Child Left Behind was enacted in the form of a reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, one of the centerpieces of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Once it takes full effect, the statute will require states that receive ESEA subsidies annually to test third to eighth grade students in reading and mathematics. By 2014 the states must bring all of their students up to the 'proficient' level on those tests. In the meantime the states must demonstrate 'adequate yearly progress' (AYP) toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency—including progress toward eliminating achievement disparities between ethnic subgroups. Schools that receive subsidies under the ESEA Title I program for disadvantaged children and that repeatedly fall short of their AYP targets are subject to an escalating series of corrective measures: allowing their students to transfer to other public schools after two years, providing supplementary services such as private tutoring after three years, and possibly becoming subject to mandatory restructuring thereafter."

Lawrence A. Uzzell
Policy Analysis, No. 544
Cato Institute
May 31, 2005
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"The philosophy behind the law [NCLB] is pretty straightforward: Local schools remain under local control. In exchange for federal dollars, however, we expect results. We're spending money on schools, and shouldn't we determine whether or not the money we're spending is yielding the results society expects?

So states set standards. One reason this school makes sense is because you have a principal who sets high standards, keeps that bar high. And we hold schools accountable for meeting the standards. There -- we set an historic goal, and that is to -- every child should learn to read and do math at grade level by 2014.

The key to measuring is to test. And by the way, I've heard every excuse in the book why we should not test -- oh, there's too many tests; you teach the test; testing is intrusive; testing is not the role of government. How can you possibly determine whether a child can read at grade level if you don't test? And for those who claim we're teaching the test, uh-uh. We're teaching a child to read so he or she can pass the test."

President George W. Bush
The White House
January 8, 2009
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"Instead of encouraging teachers to be creative in engaging their students in the classroom, NCLB’s testing requirements have forced teachers to 'teach to the test.' Many states have actually lowered their standards in order to maintain their federal funding.  NCLB hasn’t encouraged creativity or competition.  Instead, it set standards to a lowest common denominator and established a race to the bottom."

Representative Scott Garrett
Human Events
July 16, 2007
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"The costs of complying with No Child Left Behind—setting standards, testing children, publishing the results, and intervening in low-performing schools —are actually relatively modest. Instead of demanding more money for No Child Left Behind, critics should ask why states and local communities get such dismal returns on the half-trillion dollars, or nearly $10,000 per student, that they already spend on primary and secondary education every year."

Chester E. Finn Jr.
Hoover Digest, No. 3
Hoover Institution
2008
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"The interesting thing now for No Child Left Behind is that there are very few advocates for it; there is no constituency for it. Parents don't like it, administrators don't like it, and kids don't like it, but politicians and bureaucrats in Washington love it--which should be the first indication to you that it is a troubled program."

Bob Schaffer
Peter Hoekstra
The Heritage Foundation
April 25, 2007
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

"Under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, some Minneapolis schools have been mislabeled as failures and unfairly sanctioned. ESEA flexibility will eliminate some of the most arbitrary measures of the current law that have burdened schools throughout the state. Beginning in the fall of 2012, MPS will no longer face the same prescriptive actions identified under No Child Left Behind."

Bernadeia H. Johnson Ed.D.
Leader Letter, Volume 2
Minneapolis Public Schools
February 14, 2012
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind
Library Topic
Library Topic: No Child Left Behind

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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. Yecke solidifies this...

In this Heritage Foundation lecture, Representatives Schaffer and Hoekstra decry the increased role of federal government in education. According to Schaffer and Hoekstra, conservative legislators lost their way when they...

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. The report describes the steps and various reforms...

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...

"When policymakers in the White House and Congress wrote the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, they undoubtedly had places like Birmingham, Alabama, in mind. Nearly half a century after the bombings and protests that helped launch the civil rights movement, Birmingham City Schools was a textbook case of urban education in decline. The district was hemorrhaging...

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...

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...

For many conservatives, one of the positive aspects of No Child Left Behind involved its promise to deliver school choice for children in failing schools. This report looks into the choice aspect of NCLB and discovers that it is often neglected and...

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...

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