Category Archives: No Child Left Behind

States’ standards for student achievement have risen, says journal

45 states have raised their English and math standards since 2011, a result of adopting Common Core State Standards, according to Education Next, a journal reporting on K-12 education.



Education Next says this change is a significant improvement from the low standards set by most states following the implementation of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law.

Education Next has graded states on the rigor of their statewide tests for fourth and eighth graders in English and math for several years. While six states received an “A” grade in 2005, that number jumped to 24 in 2015. And while in 2005 17 states received a “D” or “F” grade, in 2015 only one state (Texas) received a “D” grade and none received an “F.”

Those 24 states which received an “A” grade include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont.

Two states, Wisconsin and Florida, are not included in the data because they had not reported test results by the middle of January when the data was compiled.

Education Next published a table showing the rigor of state testing from 2003 to 2015. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia are included in the table, available at

However, the change in standards has not led to greater achievement by students. In most states, about one-third of students taking their first Common Core Standards-aligned tests in the spring of 2015 passed, and about 2/3 failed.

Critics of the improved state standards, who wrote to the journal, question whether present-day curricula supports the new state standards; whether the new standards are reasonable; whether teacher-made tests are aligned with the new standards; whether the previous statewide tests used as comparisons are aligned with what is tested on the new tests; and whether teachers have been properly trained to prepare students for these new tests.

Should kids leave kindergarten knowing how to read?

Yes, kids should finish kindergarten knowing how to read, according to a survey of kindergarten teachers. Eighty percent of teachers said yes in 2012, up from 31 percent in 1998.

boy reading

This change in thinking about kindergarteners’ reading achievement was discovered through research by the University of Virginia. The researchers looked at surveys of 2500 kindergarten teachers in 1998 and compared them with surveys of 2700 kindergarten teachers taken about five years ago.

Expectations of kindergarteners today are more like expectations of first graders in the recent past. According to the teachers, students should enter kindergarten knowing the alphabet and they should leave kindergarten knowing how to read.

Why the change? Credit (or blame) the 2001 No Child Left Behind law which required third graders to be tested in English language skills.  To raise third graders’ achievement levels, teachers needed to find more time to teach the basics.  That time was found in kindergarten.

This pressure to learn academic skills at younger and younger ages has come at a price, according to the researchers. The amount of time kindergarteners spend in art, music, play and child-selected activities has decreased.

Is this change good or bad for children? We will need to wait for future research to answer that question.

“No Child Left Behind” overturned by Senate; Obama expected to sign

The US Senate voted on December 9 to overturn “No Child Left Behind” and to replace the 2003 law with  a law which puts more control of education in the hands of the states and local school districts.  The House already passed the same bill.



President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before the year ends.

“No Child Left Behind” gave the federal government more power over education at the expense of the states.  Many people view that law as mandating more testing and as leading to the Common Core curriculum, both opposed by more and more parents.

Under the new law, states would set their own standards and decide how much testing is necessary.  States would still need to test students in math and English/language arts, to publish those results, and to help failing students and schools.

“No Child Left Behind” law overturned by House; Senate expected to follow

sstudent filling in dots for testThe 2002 law that increased the US government’s role in education and mandated testing has been scrapped by the House of Representatives. If its replacement passes the Senate, as expected, “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) will be replaced by a law which greatly reduces the federal government’s part in education and reduces the amount of tests US kids take. President Obama has indicated he would sign such an act.

This expected change in law does nothing to interfere with the Common Core State Standards which states can adopt or not as they see fit.  However, NCLB gave rise to the Common Core, and opposition to the Common Core and all its difficult testing has, in part, led to the end of “No Child Left Behind.”

Changes the new law would make include:

  • Schools would be less accountable to the federal government and more accountable to states and local school districts which would write their own standards for schools, students and teachers.
  • The US Education Department’s role would be reduced.
  • Students in public schools would need to be tested annually in math and English/language arts, and those scores would need to be published.
  • Schools would need programs to help low achieving students and schools.
  • Title 1 money for poor schools would continue.