No Child Left Behind

Opportunity or Obstacle

Presented by: June Allison

Legislative Issue

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was signed into law by President Bush in January of 2002, and was the most significant attempt at reform since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. NCLB proclaimed to be a new law that would make sure that students with disabilities were guaranteed a quality education. One of the main goals of NCLB was to eliminate the educational gap between students who are disadvantaged, disabled and/or in a minority group from that of their non-disadvantaged peers. This goal is supported by four basic principles: heightened accountability for academic results, the ability of the local agencies to have a larger say in their educational policies and programs, allowing parent to have options and the use of proven teaching methods.

Continued Legislation

In 2004 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was revised to include portions that would ensure that special education and related services would meet the specific learning needs of children with disabilities through age 21. IDEA also requires that students with disabilities be prepared for further education, employment and/or independent living.

In 2007 NCLB expired and there have been several proposed revision plans to address all of the concerns voiced since its creation. The original proposal in 2007 included the rewording of the expectations for students with disabilities and the requirement that the academic standards for the students grade level not be modified, yet their achievement standards may be less than grade-level for these students to show mastery. Another area that was readdressed included the fact that parents of a student who will be assessed on an altered or modified academic achievement standard muse be notified. While the students can be assessed with a modified academic achievement standard this must also cover the same grade-level content as a regular assessment. State guidelines for accommodations in relation to assessments must identify those accommodations which a student can utilize while not invalidating their score, and ensure that the IEP team select those accommodations which will not invalidate the scores of their students.
A Teacher's Guide to Fixing No Child Left Behind

Current Legislation

The current legislation related to NCLB is a proposed reformation presented by President Obama. This Presidential Reform Plan includes four new focuses, which are: ensuring that every class has a great teacher and every school has a great principal, making information about the school available to the families and the student performance information provided to the teachers, focusing on preparing students for college and/or careers, and providing additional support to the lowest performing schools in America.

The specific portion of the blue print reform related to students with disabilities is a single paragraph that simply states that schools are required to support all students with appropriate instruction and challenging curriculum as well as provide them with support and additional focus as needed. The blue print reform says that it will continue to support and strengthen programs for students with disabilities.

While the wording of the reformation blue print sounds great, the current red flag for many educators and parents of children with disabilities is the fact that states are still being awarded waivers by the Obama administration which allow them to perform below proficient. So this says to the country that it is ok to perform below the proficiency level, as long as you grade your teachers based on those below proficient scores of their students, and other educational requirements.

North Carolina is one of the states that have been awarded a waiver and have even had their waiver extended due to the fact that they can not produce test scores that place the state at the proficiency level that they themselves were allowed to set.

The issue with the awarding of the waivers is now states can get away with allowing students with disabilities to fall through the cracks and not be held accountable for their performance levels on assessments.

Pros of NCLB

  • Parents will have access to more academic information than ever before.
  • Disadvantaged students should be given additional attention and support.
  • Disadvantaged students are achieving more today that they ever have in previous years.
  • Students are required to be tested yearly in reading and math from 3rd-8th grade and also once in 10th-12th grade.
  • All teachers are required to be highly qualified which means that they are fully certified by the state or have passed the state licensure exam.

Cons of NCLB

  • Student performance for an entire year is based on the results of a math and reading test given at the end of the year.
  • The push for reading and math scores has left science, social studies, art and physical education on the back burner.
  • Science is only tested once in 3rd-5th grade, once in 6th-8th grade, and once in 10th-12th grade.
  • Teachers feel pressured to teach their students to the tests they will take.
  • The educational analysis provided by assessments may not be a clear depiction of the actual progress or abilities of a student.
  • There is not a clearly established plan to improve special education and the assessments that will be used for students with disabilities.
  • Students with disabilities struggle in the current system.
  • Modified assessments are not appropriate for many students with disabilities.
  • Students are unprepared to enter the world after high school as thinkers and problem solvers.


  1. Choosing interventions for specific schools that are performing below proficiency and giving them the supports that they require will show the schools, community and teachers that they are not alone in the process of improving the learning of the students.
  2. Look at the growth of the individual students and their performance across the year, rather than just the single test at the end of the school year.
  3. Empowering parents to make choices about the assessments that their child will be given will help the school to realize the potential or possible difficulties that the students may have from a different angle.
  4. Reauthorizing of alternate assessments without a cap limit, while modified assessments are DE-authorized.
  5. The use of a computerized adaptive test which would create custom tests for each individual child based on the answers that the students provide for each question.
  6. Prevent the misleading of parents through the use of grades which are given to children with disabilities, yet have no true connection to the actual academic ability or function of the student.


A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act-- Pg 3. (2011, May 27). Retrieved September 5, 2014, from

A Teacher's Guide to Fixing No Child Left Behind. (2011, May 24). Retrieved September 13, 2014, from

Archived: Fact Sheet on No Child Left Behind. (2003, August 23). Retrieved September 6, 2014, from

Bleiberg, J., & West, D. (2013, June 18). Special Education: The Forgotten Issue in No Child Left Behind Reform. Retrieved September 14, 2014.

Ensuring that Students with Disabilities Receive a High-Quality Education: The No Child Left Behind Act. (2002, March 20). Retrieved September 4, 2014, from

Ravitch, D., & Chubb, J. (2009, January 1). The Future of No Child Left Behind - Education Next. Retrieved September 11, 2014, from

Standardized Tests - (2014, July 3). Retrieved September 5, 2014, from

U.S. Department of Education; Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Title I--Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)--Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities; 34 CFR Parts 200 and 300; Final regulations [OESE] [OSERS]. (2007, April 9). Retrieved September 12, 2014.