1/9: No Child Left Behind: Hit or miss?

Moderated by Maureen Downey
The federal No Child Left Behind Act turned 10 on Sunday, a birthday that is not being met with many congratulations or good wishes. We devote today’s education page to why the landmark legislation and its standards-based accountability provisions have proved so consequential and, in some people’s estimation, so challenging to America’s public education system.

Read my column, an op-ed piece by Neal McCluskey and comment.

4 comments Add your comment

Suzanne P. Starseed

January 11th, 2012
10:31 am

One of the significant flaws of NCLB is that it set an unrealistic goal of every child in the US (100%) performing at grade level in math and reading by the year 2014 and put in place a draconian system of accountability that punished schools that failed to make “adequate yearly progress” toward that unrealistic goal. The assumption was that the fear of punishment would cause teachers to apply the existing model of education more rigorously and that this would result in increased learning as measured by standardized high stakes tests. We have ample evidence that this assumption was wrong and that the current model of education is not up to the task! So how do we, as a democracy, improve the quality of the education our children receive? In my book, The Ecology of Learning, Re-Inventing Schools (available on Amazon), I shine the light of the best current research into our children’s classrooms. What we see is that the way we’ve been educating our children is at odds with what science tells us about the brain, learning, and motivation. This same scientific research points us toward a better way to educate our children. One that will improve their critical thinking skills, self-reliance, and ability to apply what they learn at school in the workplace and in their everyday lives.


January 10th, 2012
9:53 am

Overall, NCLB has been a miss. I think it was well intentioned, but unrealistic to hold schools districts accountable for student performance increases when there are too many variables involved. The benchmarks go up every year, but these seem contrived by pundits somewhere, who knows? From all that I have read over the years, I think NCLB mirrors society’s obsession and distorted thinking with having to rank “first” in the world in everything.


January 9th, 2012
12:20 pm

Who in their right mind thinks NCLB is a “hit?”

They say there are no stupid questions. Well, you’ve proved them wrong, Maureen.


January 9th, 2012
10:48 am