No Child Left Behind: Trends and Issues

Resident Scholar Frederick M. Hess
The No Child Left Behind Act is the most ambitious piece of education legislation ever enacted by Congress. Designed to promote accountability and prod states to increase efforts to address educational inequities, NCLB includes significant provisions regarding assessment, sanctions for low-performing schools and districts, teacher quality and standards for educational research.

On Jan. 8, 2002, surrounded by members of both the Democratic and Republican congressional leadership, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act--called NCLB--into law. NCLB is the nation's most significant federal legislation on K-12 schooling since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, and the most ambitious federal intervention in a domain long regarded as the preserve of state and local governments.

Congress approved NCLB by large, bipartisan majorities, with the law passing 87-10 in the U.S. Senate and 381-41 in the House of Representatives. Emerging from an exhaustive year of negotiations, NCLB refashioned federal education policy in the areas of testing, accountability and teacher quality. . . .

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Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI. Rosemary H. Kendrick is a research associate at AEI.

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