No Child Left Behind

Steffanie Eichelberger

Step 1: Recognizing the Problem/Setting the Agenda

Many students across the United States come from low income families. It was recognized that most of these students were not excelling in school and were in need of additional assistance. Unfortunately, school districts with lower income students are more likely to have lower amounts of school funds. To resolve this issue, George W. Bush and his administration created the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to increase funding and new measures to make schools accountable for the students progress.
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NCLB Components

The idea of NCLB was based on education reforms made in Texas, during George W. Bush's time as governor. This eventually became part of Bush's presidential campaign which greatly influenced the process of passing the law. The law was passed by significant majorities in both houses of congress. Some of the major parts of the law include adequate yearly progress (AYP), student testing, and school choice.
2001: Bush touts 'No Child Left Behind'
The video above briefly describes the NCLB plan and how people feel it is effecting education.

Step 2: Formulating the Policy

The No Child Left Behind Act is the most current form of President Lyndon Johnson's Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), the federal law authorizing spending on programs to support K-12 spending. The law's original goal was to improve educational equity for students that come from lower income families by providing federal funds to schools with students of these circumstances. ESEA was enacted as part of the Johnson Administration's War on Poverty campaign in 1965 and its goal remains today. Since 1965, the ESEA has been reauthorized seven times, meanwhile keeping the central goal of improving the educational opportunities for children from lower income families. In 1994, the Improving America's School Act set in place key elements and standards for states and school districts that receive funding under the law. These provisions were further developed in the most recent re-authorization, the No Child Left Behind Act, as part of George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

"It will offer new hope to tens of thousands of youngsters who need attention before they ever enroll in the first grade”- Lyndon Johnson

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Step 3: Adopting the Policy

This bill was introduced into the legislative process. After a committee researched the bill, it was reported to full chamber recommending it be considered for further review. On May 23, 2011, the bill was passed in the House. The Senate made changes to the bill and then sent it back to the House for approval. The House approved a conference committee report to resolve the differences in each chamber's version. The bill was then passed by both chambers in identical form. On January 8, 2002, George W. Bush signed the bill and the law passed congress with bipartisan support. This is a social regulatory policy.
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Step 4: Implementing the Policy

The No Child Left Behind Act is required to test students in math and reading every year. Schools must make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward this goal. Each state is able to choose the rate of increase required to reach the goal by 2014. If a school does not reach the yearly goal for two or more years, they are classified as schools "in need of improvement" and will face consequences. Students also have the option to change schools after two years of failing to reach yearly progress. After each year of failing to meet requirements, the school district faces more punishment.
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Step 5: Evaluating the Policy

Although the policy was at first well received, many teachers and politicians criticized it for being unrealistic, inadequately funded, and too focused on standardized testing. Many people argue that the standardized testing is not effective because it is too focused on memorization and not learning. One problem that arose was schools needed additional funding to achieve yearly goals. Republicans did not react well to this because they want the government to have less authority on these matters. The policy did apportion funding but was not nearly enough. On the other hand, test scores have been increasing since NCLB was passed in 2002. In particular, minority students test scores have increased the most since 2002. On the same note, the achievement gap between minority students and white students has decreased.
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"No Child Left Behind Overview." Federal Education Budget Project. New America Foundation, 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <>.

"Federal Education Budget Project." New America Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 17

Nov. 2014. <


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

"No Child Left Behind (NCLB)." No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <>.

Darling-Hammond, Linda. "Evaluating 'No Child Left Behind'" Nation 7 May 2007. Print