The No Child Left Behind Act was designed to hold states and school districts accountable for academic outcomes and to close the achievement gap among students. These are good goals. Disaggregating the test scores makes it easier for us to see the achievement gaps between groups of students in our schools. No Child Left Behind also has highlighted the importance of teacher quality. But NCLB has also created problems. Students, teachers, parents, and administrators are frustrated with unintended consequences of the law. Perhaps the easiest to recognize is the focus on test scores, which often limits flexibility in the classroom. The law has never been fully funded.
No Child Left Behind needs to be reevaluated and restructured to better fit the needs of our children and schools. Schools in high poverty areas will need the financial support that this law promised. We should improve the way success is measured, since one high-stakes test narrows the curriculum. Teachers feel pressure to “teach to the test” at the expense of science, social studies, art, music, and physical education programs. Measuring success through standardized test scores has also created frustration for special education students, students whose first language isnt English, and students in smaller school districts. Finally, we need to do a better job of placing highly qualified teachers in every classroom. Effective teachers are the essential factor in successful education, and the federal government should be a partner in the recruitment, retention, and development of teachers.