The federal No Child Left Behind NCLB law failed badly in terms of its own goals, leading to a decade of educational stagnation, according to FairTest’s report marking NCLB’s tenth anniversary.
Among the report’s major findings:
- NCLB failed to significantly increase average academic performance or to significantly narrow achievement gaps, as measured by the NAEP. U.S. students made greater gains before NCLB became law than after it was implemented.
- NCLB damaged educational quality and equity by narrowing the curriculum in many schools and focusing attention on the limited skills standardized tests measure. These negative effects fell most severely on classrooms serving low-income and minority children.
- So-called “reforms” to NCLB, such as “Race to the Top,” Obama Administration waivers and the Senate’s Education Committee’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act ESEA reauthorization bill, fail to address many of the law’s fundamental flaws and in some cases intensify them.
The report also provides recommendations for improving federal education law and policy.