What was wrong with the No Child Left Behind Act?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were many problems with the No Child Left Behind Act. In theory, the law sounded like a good idea. No child should get a poor education. Every child should be proficient in learning. Poor schools should be identified. However, in practice, the law had many drawbacks.

One drawback was the amount of testing being done. Students were taking so many tests that they were losing valuable instruction time. Many teachers reporting that the main classroom objective was to pass the tests. Some of the other valuable aspects of teaching, such as inquiry based and project based learning, were being discarded as students spent so much time preparing for and taking the tests.

Another drawback was that a school could be labeled as failing with just a slight shift in test scores. Schools with small populations could be impacted if just a few students didn’t do well on the tests. This could be an issue if new students with limited skills moved to the school. Also, the goal that 100 percent of the students would be proficient by 2013 was unrealistic.

Finally, since some subjects weren’t included in the testing, those subjects truly got left behind. Subjects like Social Studies were suddenly cut way back. In many elementary schools, Social Studies courses weren’t even taught. For some students, it wasn’t until high school that they had a yearlong Social Studies course. Almost all of the money for professional development went to Reading and Math. Teachers stopped attending Social Studies conferences and joining professional Social Studies organizations. While this wasn’t the intent of the law, it was one of the unintended consequences.

The law was one with good intentions. However, in practice, it didn’t work as smoothly or as well as people thought it would work.