Friday, July 17, 2015

Waxing Nostalgic: NCLB

As a teacher who began his career in 1998, I can attest to the damage NCLB did to the teaching profession, education overall, and to the children left behind in the wake of a demanding, unyielding, bulwark of state and federal accountability. Informed by experience and the listed research, NCLB was a program that pressurized standardized testing unilaterally and redirected funding at the cost of educating our children.
The ideal of school accountability systems are designed to:
encourage educators to  align their instruction with important learning standards, foster the adoption of instructional techniques that produce measurable results in student learning, improve the quality of educators entering and remaining in schools, and inform educators and the public about how well students are learning various subjects and skills (Davidson, Reback, Rockoff, & Schwartz, 2013).
With this in mind, NCLB accomplished some of these, however, the pressure placed on schools and districts by federal mandates and state directives lined the pockets of test designing companies as schools and districts scrambled to create tests. This pressure forced schools to manipulate data and subgroup reporting to appear accountable, when in fact vast populations of students were underperforming and underserved (Davidson, et al., 2013).
            Funding also left vast amounts of students behind. At the risks of losing accreditation and students, underperforming schools in low-economic and urban areas ran the risk of losing Title I monies if AYP targets were not met. These monies would then be redirected to school outside the district to more affluent districts as school choice came in to play leaving the urban school under funded for the remaining students (Sanders, 2008). Moreover, school decisions to redirect funds away from non-assessed courses like the arts, physical education, history, and many other programs depleted these programs and sacrificed a future for those students within those programs to grow and flourish (Pederson, 2007).
            The impact of NCLB remains in question. While some research suggest positive impacts such as teacher quality and student performance (Davidson, et al, 2013), other research stress the negative effects on the schools and students left behind with a lack of funds, closings, cauterization to charter schools and more affluent schools (Sanders, 2008). Personally, “teaching to the test” effect was apparent in PLC, faculty meetings, and district professional development. Although always denied, the riptide of the accountability always held the noose of school closing above our heads. This looming doom impacted our teaching and relationships with our students.


Davidson, E., Reback, R., Rockoff, J. E., & Schwartz, H. L. (2013). Fifty ways to leave a child behind: Idiosyncrasies and discrepancies in states' implementation of NCLB. Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. doi:
Pederson, P. (2007). What Is Measured Is Treasured: The Impact of the No Child Left Behind Act on Nonassessed Subjects. Clearing House, 80(6), 287–291. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database

Sanders, A. (2008). Left behind: Low-income students under the no child left behind act (NCLB). Journal of Law and Education,37(4), 589-596. Retrieved from

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