The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB): A closer look

Virginia Adams Simon, University of Pennsylvania


The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) marked a significant moment in time for American educators, policy makers, and the public. For the first time in our nation's history, the Congress, with overwhelming bi-partisan support, ruled that state governments should be held accountable for the achievement of all of their children. Not only must states show that they have set standards for their students and test 95% of that population every year, but 100% of students must meet state standards by 2014. The district chosen for the study received a warning in both its middle (5–8) and high schools (9–12) for low performance of subgroups in the first year of the law and was placed on “school improvement” status the following year. While the middle and high schools worked to close this achievement gap and comply with NCLB, this research focused on the two (K–4) elementary schools that fed the highest proportion of poor, minority, and low performing children into them. Using a case study design, the research sought to answer the following questions: How do feeding elementary schools respond when middle and high schools fail under NCLB? How do stakeholders at the elementary level view their roles and responsibilities in solving the larger problem? Data were gathered through interviews and focus groups with teachers, parents, and administrators in both schools as well as the district. Extensive observations took place in the building and at district events. A survey was conducted of the entire staff in both buildings. The research found that boundaries and protections across the district created isolated reforms that had no connection to one another. This disconnection allowed the elementary schools to remain completely isolated from the middle and high school with little knowledge about NCLB or the state of the district. Within the elementary school studies, important instructional issues were raised as teachers were found to be frustrated and unable to teach in ways that they valued within the district's assessment-driven accountability system.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Curricula|Teaching|School administration

Recommended Citation

Simon, Virginia Adams, "The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB): A closer look" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168012.