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Does 'No Child Left Behind' Leave Some Students Behind?

Lockridge holds an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Elementary Education, and a BA in History. She also homeschools her children.

How effectively does 'No Child Left Behind' reach students?

How effectively does 'No Child Left Behind' reach students?

Does NCLB Help or Hinder Student Development?

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was built upon earlier laws and helps hold schools accountable for ensuring that all students in the schools participate in the state assessment system, notes the US Department of Education, as cited in Byrnes. Despite the good intention, some people believe that the NCLB standards are too difficult for students with disabilities, and that the expectations end up leaving some students behind.

The four key principles of NCLB inclde accountability, growth targets, partental involvement and research-basend instruction. When educators focus their efforts on these key principles, they are more likely to see educational improvement and less likely to see their student fall behind their peers. NCLB also helps raise the bar of educational stanrdards, and allows students to better reach their potential.

While some contend that NCLB standards hold students with disabilities to a standard too high for them to attain, the US Department of Education suggests that NCLB improves the achievement of all student groups, noting, “setting the bar high helps all students, including students with disabilities, reach those standards”.

All students deserve a high-quality education, despite their intelligence level, notes The US Department of Education as cited in Byrnes. By having students with disabilities participate in state assessments — one of the core principles of the NCLB initiative — all subgroups of students are held accountable for their performance.

One of the strongest points made by the US Department of Education is that when “students are excluded from assessments, they are excluded from school improvement plans based on those assessment results”. Allowing for accommodations during assessments, such as giving extended time during testing or reviewing instructions, does not give students with disabilities an unfair advantage, but it does help level the playing field for a student who needs more help. So in answer to the question, in my opinion, NCLB raise expected standards of all students.


Byrnes, M. (2011). Taking sides: Clashing views in special education. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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