No Child Left Behind Failed Its Primary Goals

Ten Years After Enactment, Education Experts “Found No Net Positive Effect From Any Of No Child Left Behind’s Primary Goals.” According to the National Journal, “National Journal asked 21 education experts—the law’s authors, other lawmakers, school officials, academics, and advocates with a variety of perspectives—to evaluate No Child Left Behind’s effectiveness based on its original goals. […] Of the seven objectives that NJ identified, the experts considered the law’s spotlight on student achievement its only success. Collectively, they found no net positive effect from any of No Child Left Behind’s primary goals.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

Experts: No Child Left Behind “Did Not Achieve Its Defining Goal—Accountability.” According to the National Journal, “The law did not achieve its defining goal—accountability—but it spurred states and school boards to rethink how they assess and run their education systems. Some called this an achievement in itself.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

Experts: No Child Left Behind “Failed To Close The Achievement Gap Between Well-Off White Children And Minority Or Low-Income Students.” According to the National Journal, “The law failed to close the achievement gap between well-off white children and minority or low-income students. But that goal was always more of an aspiration than a realistic objective.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

Experts: “No Child Left Behind Was An Outright Failure At Ensuring Teacher Effectiveness.” According to the National Journal, “No Child Left Behind was an outright failure at ensuring teacher effectiveness. Its certification requirements were ineffective; but, at minimum, it focused educators on evaluating teachers.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

Experts: No Child Left Behind “Did Not Dramatically Boost Students’ Scores.” According to the National Journal, “On perhaps its most basic goal, improving overall student performance, the law did not dramatically boost students’ scores, but neither did it inhibit their progress.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

No Child Left Behind “Did Not Cause A Noticeable Uptick” In Reading And Math Scores. According to the National Journal, “The results from all of that testing are not very encouraging. In global comparisons, 15-year-olds in the United States rank 14th in reading and 25th in math. Scores have increased slowly and steadily over the past 20 years, but No Child Left Behind did not cause a noticeable uptick.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

No Child Left Behind’s Many Problems Included “Tremendous” Paperwork Burdens, Useless Teacher Certification Requirements, And Issues With Fair Funding For Poorer Schools. According to the National Journal, “The law had problems from the beginning. Administrators spent much of their time trying to get their schools in compliance on paper rather than implementing the kind of radical changes the sponsors envisioned. The paperwork burdens were tremendous. The teacher-certification requirements were pretty much a waste of time. Loopholes in the funding provisions had the practical effect of ensuring that financially poor schools still got less money than those in well-off areas. Some states lowered their academic standards to ‘improve’ their performance.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

NYT: “Almost Everybody Agrees That The Law Is Broken,” Prompting Obama Administration To Issue Waivers For No Child Left Behind Benchmarks. According to the New York Times, “Forty-eight percent, up from 39 percent in 2010, is the highest proportion of schools labeled as failing since President George W. Bush signed the education law in 2001. Schools acquire the label when they fail to raise student reading and math scores enough to keep up with testing targets set by their states. [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan, in a statement issued on Wednesday, brushed aside the discrepancy. ‘Whether it’s 50 percent, 80 percent or 100 percent of schools being incorrectly labeled as failing, one thing is clear: No Child Left Behind is broken,’ Mr. Duncan said. […] Almost everybody agrees that the law is broken. With Congress making little progress rewriting it, the administration announced this fall that it would issue waivers of its central requirements to states that outlined credible plans to hold schools accountable for student progress.” [New York Times, 12/15/11]

No Child Left Behind Critics Say Law Is Underfunded, Overly Complex, And Too Heavy On Standardized Tests. According to PBS, “Since its passage, NCLB has become what is arguably one of the most unpopular pieces of education legislation ever passed. A public opinion poll, conducted by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa International (an education organization), found that nearly six out of 10 Americans who are familiar with NCLB believe it has had no effect on schools, or a negative effect. Criticism from lawmakers and educators is widespread, and sometimes fierce. Among the most commonly echoed charges: the legislation has been underfunded, it has focused too much on standardized testing, and its most admirable goals have been bogged down in complex details.” [PBS, 9/5/08]

In 2011, 50 Percent Of Schools Failed Annual Yearly Progress Goals. According to U.S. News & World Report, “The main controversy surrounding NCLB is the difficulty schools are having meeting ‘Annual Yearly Progress’ (AYP) math and reading benchmarks—goals that about 50 percent of American schools failed to achieve in 2011. By 2014, all students are expected to be ‘proficient’ in math and reading. But those proficiency benchmarks were left up to each individual state to decide in 2002, and schools are judged on the percentage of their students who meet those benchmarks, not their year-to-year improvement. That means more schools each year are considered to be ‘failing’ under the law. The 48 percent of schools who ‘failed’ under NCLB in 2011 represented more than double the percentage that failed in 2010.” [U.S. News & World Report, 1/4/12]

No Child Left Behind “Fumbled Its Measurement And Enforcement Mechanisms.” According to the National Journal, “No Child Left Behind got about halfway there in getting schools to account for the achievement, or failure, of their students. We know a lot more than we did 10 years ago about students’ math and reading abilities. […] But the law fumbled its measurement and enforcement mechanisms. It allowed states to create their own assessment tools, thus fragmenting the system and making it impossible to tell from state to state how students were performing. School administrators supplanted the initial goal of boosting student achievement with a more benign one—simple regulatory compliance. Achieving compliance became a paper game to jerry-rig the benchmarks so that more schools could meet them. Because low achievement led to sanctions, some school districts did everything they could to avoid letting the true story of their failures come out.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

No Child Left Behind’s Efforts To Improve Teacher Quality Are Ineffective. According to the National Journal, “No Child Left Behind was intended to ensure high-quality teachers in every school, regardless of poverty level or neighborhood. It aimed to prevent school districts from concentrating low-performing teachers in poor areas where parents were less likely to complain. The law didn’t even get out of the starting gate in rectifying that situation. Faced with a torrent of protests from teachers unions and schools, the authors stopped short of mandating an ultimate ‘effectiveness’ goal and settled for requiring teacher certifications. To be considered ‘highly qualified’ under the law, teachers need two things—a bachelor’s degree in the subject they teach and a teaching credential. Teachers and school administrators describe the law’s certification requirements as ludicrous and time-consuming, causing bureaucratic headaches while doing nothing to indicate a teacher’s abilities. Teacher evaluations and professional-development efforts continue on an ad hoc basis depending on the state and the district, but they have little to do with the check-the-box credentialing.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

No Child Left Behind “Has Succeeded In Exposing Problems In Public Schools but Has Done Little To Solve Them.” The following graphic is from the National Journal:

nclb nj

[National Journal, 12/8/11]