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No Child Left Behind

Definition: No Child Left Behind

On Meet the Press yesterday, Tim Russert and Co. showed a clip of Bill Clinton campaigning, saying that No Child Left Behind was a bad idea because not enough teachers were consulted. Bill said it was supported by George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy "and everyone in between." Which included Hillary. Russert then pulled out a 2001 memo in which Hillary supported the act. Here are the details of the legislation so that you can decide for yourself.

Signed into law in 2002, this act aims to increase performance in secondary and primary schools by placing greater emphasis on a state's and school's accountability toward helping students reach defined educational benchmarks.

Based on the idea that setting firm and high goals will positively impact learning and performance, the act requires that all students be tested annually in math and reading from grades 3-8, and at least once in high school to determine whether schools are meeting goals.

No Child Left Behind is definitely controversial. Those in favor of the act point to improved test scores, increased accountability for teachers and school administrators, and more attention to minority populations, helping them meet educational goals along with their peers. The act provides more funding, more local control for schools, and increased choice and flexibility for students and parents, allowing students the choice to leave under-performing schools in favor of a higher quality education elsewhere. If you think you disagree with this,


Detractors opine that a focus on standardized tests encourages curriculum geared toward test success, rather than deeper understanding of the material. They dislike the disincentives for low performing schools, and cite inequality by providing English-only based assessments, and dispute federal funding for faith-based education.

The act was up for renewal in 2007 and as of December 7, 2007, Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, announced that schools will now have more flexibility over how they measure growth, expanding the program allowing the tracking of individual score fluctuation, rather than relying on group based assessments.

For more info on NCLB check out the Department of Education.


Join The Conversation
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
lol plasticapple i understand. This is what NCLB does to us, it gets us on tangents and wont let us go!
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
Sorry, off-topic for most of you: Hey plastic apple! I'm not a Montessori teacher but I went to Montessori my whole childhood and it was by far the most superior education I've ever received. Everyone in that class is incredibly succesful and so bright now. After I transferred schools, my new schools didn't catch up until about sophomore year of high school! So I was pretty bored for about 4 years! Also, my mom is a Master Montessori teacher. She originally trained under Mario Montessori, and has been teaching it for 30 years, and has her PhD in it. She also does a ton of workshops and trains interns :-) I've assisted in her classroom for about ten years, so I'm a total Montessori missionary ;-) The BEST thing about her school is that it's public--it's a very enlightened district!
plasticapple plasticapple 9 years
"even people who live in nice areas (I.e. me) aren't getting around this NCLB act. It doesn't matter where you live, if you are a student in public school you will be effected. They continue to overcrowd the "nice area" schools which leads to higher rebellion and restrictions in order to cope for the lack of funding and staff." I know, I was off on a tangent about 'the system' in general.
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
even people who live in nice areas (I.e. me) aren't getting around this NCLB act. It doesn't matter where you live, if you are a student in public school you will be effected. They continue to overcrowd the "nice area" schools which leads to higher rebellion and restrictions in order to cope for the lack of funding and staff. arlyle, my dad is a public middle school 8th grade history teacher as well and I will be too someday, him and I both know how negatively this act has effected children first hand, both on the teacher's side AND the student's (he also had to sit there and basically watch me fail in high school because he had no say in what the school did, it was very sad). You are very right in saying that it should be thrown in the trash.
plasticapple plasticapple 9 years
And I agree that NCLB sucks. The whole public school system makes me so sad. I hate that the quality of a child's education is based on what area of town they live in. Not fair! Unless you live in a really nice area you've barely got a chance. Even the middle class area schools around here suck.
plasticapple plasticapple 9 years
City Girl, are you a Montessori teacher? I'm currently in my internship year, and I couldn't agree more. Go Montessori! :D
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Bravo arlyle - your sentiments mirror that of family I have that teach in urban, minority schools in Chicago and NYC. These kids are not stupid, they are not lazy, but they're forced into this situation where recess is no longer seen as necessary because test scores determine the fate of the schools. Our schools are deeply segregated in America, and this is another reason to add to the list of WHY - with manageable class sizes, equality of resources and good teachers (who are PAID WELL), and an END to districting between poor/rich areas, children can learn to think and examine and analyze and bond with each other regardless of class or race. Unfortunately, NCLB is crippling any chance of this ever happening. I am willing to pay my property taxes in order to secure the future of America's children - better education means less of a lot of things - less crime, less poverty, less wage slaves, etc. If our government doesn't want to see that happen, then WE need to do something about it.
arlyle arlyle 9 years
I'm a public middle school history teacher in Oakland and I can say first hand that No Child Left Behind is seriously detrimental for students in the system. If schools don't meet NCLB requirements, they are first put on probation. If they don't improve from there staff is fired, funding is lost, the government takes over, and they are eventually shut down. These children are being punished for their socio economic status and the fact that they are in less desirable areas and school districts. Many quality teachers are not willing to move to dangerous areas and schools that are in trouble are losing the resources they need to try and help these kids. These tests deon't show what these kids are learning, they show what they can regurgitate. We should be raising critical thinkers; not robots. I am counting the days until a new administration is in office so that NCLB can be thrown in the trash where it belongs.
jnj213 jnj213 9 years
and NCLB is actually and unfunded mandate you only get money if the school improves
starofsorrow starofsorrow 9 years
Luckily, I graduated in '02. However, my brother was not so lucky. He graduated in '04, but he flunked for three straight years. It finally got to the point where he transferred to an alternative high school in downtown in my hometown in his second semester of his senior year, where he took ALL FOUR YEARS of high school in five months. He passed every single year....I think he actually studied a subject (Math or something) for five days and passed all four years in one week....insane. My brother IS a brilliant man....just that the education system utterly and completely failed him. It took him getting out of there to succeed. No Child Left Behind had well meaning intent and purpose, but it just failed utterly. Completely and utterly.
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
Oh and of course, we had to take the constitution test senior year, which determined if we graduated...LOL
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
Our school had standardized test every year (I graduated in 07, which was my true senior year) so the freshman would get this dinky "explore" test, the sophs take the PSAT and the Juniors take the ACT all of which determine where in the class you rank and how well you will do for the next few years of school lol it was a joke..i don't regret not graduating from that school
kitkatherine kitkatherine 9 years
what my state did was the OGT - the ohio graduation test. starting with everyone who was to graduate in '07, in their sophomore year, students would take a standardized test they had to pass in order to graduate. i graduated in '06, and this was passed in late '04 or early '05. so my sophomore year, we had to take the first batch of them. my boyfriend said no one in his school took it seriously, and most tried to go quick and sleep through. my class was ill supervised, and in a class of only 100 kids, that is sad. we talked during it, and did whatever we pleased. i misunderstood a question in the reading, and thought i had to DRAW an answer, so i drew a whale (it was all related) and i got in the upper 90th percentile. it's just really really awful.
misogi misogi 9 years
I agree with everyone above - No Child Left Behind is one of the worst pieces of educational legislation to have ever been passed in this country, period. If someone actually comments with support for the program, they had better brace themselves... :P
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
btw i graduated with a 3.7 gpa. In just that ONE year that i was in the alternative high school i had basically relearned all 4 years of curriculum and still graduated with of the reasons for this? We didn't have standardized tests and the course depth was intense and the teachers werent pressured. I grew up in a upper middle class family and community as well so this effects everyone.
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
Haha That was long sorry i just needed to vent and I had a little time to kill
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
Here's the deal. When I was in high school this "no child left behind" act had just gone into effect. Our Public school system began to deteriorate because we were bussing kids all the way from the other side of the city so they could have a "better education". My high school was rated the best in our public school system out of the main 4 public high schools (in the school district, there are about 20 high schools overall) in my city. Tjis made MY school over populated and made, what was once an amazing school with great staff, students, cirriculum, and activities, it became like a jail because there were too many students, not enough teachers, and we relied on bussing too much. Our test scores DID NOT improve and the more restricted cirriculum and less emphasis on subject depth led to kids failing and beginning to resent the school and the school system in general. How do I know this? Well for ONE I was one of those kids who resented the system, I resented the fact that the teachers had over crowded classes and there wasn't even enough desks or textbooks which lead to the teachers resenting the children and the school which lead them to not care as much about the individual children and only care about making their money and making it through the day.... I dropped out Junior year because I was so behind in school because the teachers didnt care about giving out late work or challenge me at all I ended up graduating from an Alternative high school (which had a "bad" reputation because it was on teh "bad" side of town but i learned more there than i'd learned in the 3 years i spent in traditional school because the teachers didnt have to deal with overcrowing and the teachers actually cared!) This is all because of the "no child left behind" act. theres no doubt about that.......
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
For example, when we had our standardized test, anyone who passed it got an excellence award. So...that was pretty much everyone. How are we going to encourage kids to excel if we award everyone the same, no matter how they actually perform. You can't boil kids down to a formula. Everyone has different strong and weak points. Children are not STANDARDIZED. Although, I understand how it might have sounded like a good idea and I suppose that you have to give them some kind of credit for trying.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
Standardized testing is the worst thing to ever happen to education. I'm all for giving kids a break if they're in trouble, but designing a whole system so that the less apt kids do better and the smarter kids get ignored is just ridiculous.
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
Amen, bailaoragaditana. Go Montessori! Hehehe
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I concur with the commenters above - NCLB is NOT teaching children anything except how to take a certain type of test. While they may get minimal basic literacy and numeracy skills out of it, they aren't really LEARNING. Learning is an open-ended process - something bubbling in answers multiple choice questions really isn't. The only way for students to truly learn is for them to read, and see, and write, and do. Without hands-on experience and the ability to go wherever their brains take them, they won't really be getting anything out of their education. Have them read books, write reports, whatever piques their interest - because at the end of the day, they have to be INTERESTED in what they're learning about... and isn't that really what we want to promote? It's clichéd, I know, but a life-long love of learning is a GOOD thing.
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
This is a horrible, horrible program that shows total lack of understanding how children learn. It instills at an early age the practice of just learning things by rote to 'do well' on a standardized test. It doesn't encourage true understanding of a subject, inter-subject connections, or critical thinking skills AT ALL. UGH it makes me so angry!
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Oh, and about the minority issue - 50% of black men are 2 years behind in school because of No Child Left Behind. That's not to say 50% of black men are stupid or lazy, but that 50% of them could not continue the normal path because they were unable to pass the tests. The numbers in the poor white community are HIGHER - about 60% of white men in rural or urban areas are unable to pass the tests allowing them to move from grade to grade at a normal pace. However, in a study of one Brooklyn school, teachers tried to beg their administration to let students continue to their next grades, citing their normal schoolwork and actions to be excellently done - but no. JUST because of these tests, children are forced to repeat entire years of school.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Every test ever performed regarding test-based education has shown that it DOES NOT WORK. Lack of equal resources and involved educators due to budget and redlining districts detracts from the poors ability to have equal education, teachers are paid less in urban districts, therefore turnover is high, administrators are promised bonuses in many NYC school districts of $15,000 if they have a certain quota of students passing, thus prompting them to get rid of art, music, gym, and even recess in favor of an extremely structured test-prep program - some guides to do this are based on military methods of training!! For children!! If you agree with No Child Left Behind, I BEG you to read Jonathan Kozol's "Savage Inequalities" or "Shame of the Nation" - you'll have stats, information, and personal interviews galore that will show you how horrifying this system is for America's children.
NYYPrincess NYYPrincess 9 years
"No Child Left Behind" has completely failed our children. If anything, it's made teachers and administrators jobs even more difficult. It breaks my heart hearing stories from all over the US how horrible this has made trying to educate our youth.
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