NCLB Turns 10

Commentary Collection: NCLB Turns 10

Ten years after President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law on Jan. 8, 2002, NCLB is now overdue for reauthorization in Congress. Bipartisan in its origins but controversial in its execution, NCLB, which is the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, expanded the federal role in education and targeted improving the achievement of disadvantaged students.

To reflect on the law's anniversary, the Education Week Commentary editors asked a range of K-12 education leaders, politicians, teachers, and child advocates for their thoughts. This package also includes links to Education Week's coverage over the decade, readers’ comments, and a glossary of selected NCLB terms.

President George W. Bush, seated, signs the No Child Left Behind legislation into law on Jan. 8, 2002, at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio. From left to right standing are Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Education Secretary Rod Paige, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Hamilton High honor student Molly Estridge, 17. Children with Bush are Tez Taylor, left, and Cecilia Pallcio, right.
—Ron Edmonds/AP-File

NCLB: Commentaries

George Miller: A Landmark Law for Children

The No Child Left Behind Act marked a major step forward for school reform, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., writes.

Lamar Alexander: NCLB Lessons

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., says that while NCLB has been a noble experiment, most decisions about education should be local.

More Perspectives on NCLB

In recognition of the 10th anniversary of NCLB, Commentary asked leaders in the K-12 community to consider the law's impact. Seventeen writers contributed brief essays: Mary Bell, Linda Darling-Hammond, Kati Haycock, Kaya Henderson, Eugene W. Hickok, Jack Jennings, Lindsay Jones, Harold Kwalwasser, Lillian Lowery, Tom Luna, Neal McCluskey, Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Renee Moore, Michael Mulgrew, Susan Ohanian, Paul G. Pinsky, and Paul G. Vallas.

NCLB: In a Word NCLB: A Word Cloud
This word cloud illustrates 280 responses to the question "What word or words do you associate with No Child Left Behind?," which Education Week posed on Facebook. The most-popular answers appear in the largest type and include "Flawed," which came in at No. 1 with 72 votes, followed by "Failure" (49). Click the image to enlarge.

NCLB: The Story

10 Years Later

Using the Web-based storytelling platform Storify, Education Week Commentary compiled quotes, stories, photos, tweets, and readers' reflections on No Child Left Behind in its 10th year. Visit the NCLB Storify page.

NCLB: Past Education Week Progress Reports

Progress reports provide data and analysis on implementation of the landmark federal legislation. In addition to monitoring trends in statistics related to NCLB's requirements for adequate yearly progress and highly qualified teachers, EPE's journalists and researchers track state policy changes resulting from the law's testing and accountability provisions.

Framing the Debate (2006)

Room to Maneuver (2005)

Taking Root (2004)

NCLB: A Breakdown

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

Annual Testing

Choice and Tutoring

Growth Models

Highly Qualified Teachers

Reading First

School Restructuring

Subgroup Accountability

Title I


The No Child Left Behind Act is perhaps the most controversial and far-reaching federal education law on the books. This Spotlight looks at where adjustments have been made to NCLB and what lies ahead for the law and schools.

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