No Child Left Behind

Nadia Glatzhofer


The No Child Left Behind Act is the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. ESEA is the largest source of federal spending on education. NCLB ensures that students with disabilities and students with lower income families reach high levels of academic standards.

Step One: Recognizing the Problem/Setting the Agenda

It was recognized that students from lower class families were not excelling to their best abilities by statistics and tests. George W Bush felt that education was an area that needed help. The No Child Left Behind Act started as a way to improve educational equity for students from lower income families and disabilities. The plan was for the States to provide federal funds to school districts serving poor students. School districts with lower income students often have lower amounts of school funding. To fix this, George W. Bush and his administration came up with the No Child Left Behind Act to increase funding and new measures to hold schools accountable for the student’s progress.
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Step Two: Formulating the Policy

The Bush Administration formulated the No Child Left Behind Act to reform education by setting high standards and establishing measurable goals. The legislation was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner, George Miller, and Senators Edward Kennedy and Judd Gregg. They worked together to require states to develop assessments in basic skills like reading, math and science. States must give these assessments to all students at select grade levels to receive federal school funding. NCLB expanded the federal role in public education through annual testing, annual academic progress, report cards, teacher qualifications, and funding changes.

Step Three: Adopting the Policy

The bill was introduced into the legislative process. A committee researched the bill and reported to the full chamber recommending the bill be considered for further review. The bill then passed the House in May 2001. The Senate made some changes and passed the bill back to the House to approve the changes. A conference committee had to resolve the issues and the House agreed to the changes. The bill was passed by both the House and the Senate. George W. Bush proposed the No Child Left Behind Act shortly after he took office. On January 8, 2002, he signed the bill into law and it passed congress with bipartisan support. This law is a social regulatory policy.
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Step Four: Implementing the Policy

NCLB requires states to test the students on reading and math annually. It is required to make public the overall test results and the additional groups such as disabilities and low income students. The schools must make adequate yearly progress toward this goal. It is left up to each state to choose the rate of increase required to reach the goal by 2014.The State Board of Education and Department of Education makes sure that the NCLB policy is followed and executed. If a school fails to reach the yearly progress for two or more years, they are classified as schools "in need of improvement" and face consequences. The second year of failing to do so, the students have the option to transfer schools. The third year the students have supplemental services and the option to transfer. Each year continuing to fail the requirements, the school district has more punishments they must face. Most states, including PA, have applied for waivers to no longer be held responsible for the AYP targets.
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Step Five: Evaluating the Policy

The policy was initially well received, but problems with the policy started to surface five years later. The debate over reauthorization has started and still cannot reach agreement. Many people are unhappy, especially republicans, because they want the federal government to have less authority. One of the problems is that the states need additional funding. Other people claim that the multiple choice type testing dumbs down the population in a way of memorizing not learning. Math and reading have slowed down on approvement. This policy did allocate funding for the schools but was not nearly enough.


  • Student test scores have been increasing since NCLB took effect in 2002. In particular, the test scores of minority students have increased the most in this time.
  • The overall achievement gap between minority students and the white majority has decreased between 1999 and 2004.


  • The federal government has consistently failed to provide the amount of funding the program requires.
  • Achievement is measured only by a students’ performance on annual multiple-choice reading and math tests.
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Darling-Hammond, Linda. "Evaluating 'No Child Left Behind'" Nation 7 May 2007. Print

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"No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (2002 - H.R. 1)." Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <>

“No Child Left Behind.” Boundless U.S. History. Boundless, 27 Jun. 2014. Retrieved 13 Nov. 2014 from

"No Child Left Behind Overview." Federal Education Budget Project. New America Foundation, 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <>