No Child Left Behind: 10 Years Later

This Education Week collection offers perspectives on the implications, successes, and failures of NCLB. The act, signed into law 10 years ago, is overdue for reauthorization.


  1. President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law on Jan. 8, 2002.

  2. "The No Child Left Behind Act started holding people to account, and the achievement gap is narrowing." —President George W. Bush, in preparing to leave office, describes NCLB as one of his most important domestic accomplishments.
  3. We asked a range of K-12 education leaders, politicians, teachers, and child advocates for their thoughts on NCLB. Find the link to the complete Education Week NCLB package below and scroll down further to see the thoughts of Rep. George Miller, Sen. Lamar Alexander, 17 other education leaders, and our @EdweekComm Twitter followers.  
  4. The No Child Left Behind Act marked a major step forward for school reform, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., writes. Click below to read the full Commentary. 
  5. “My thesis is simple: The No Child Left Behind Act is a bad law, and a bad law is not made better by fully funding it.” (Nel Noddings, Commentary, Feb. 23, 2005)
  6. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., says that while NCLB has been a noble experiment, most decisions about education should be local. Click below to read the full Commentary. 
  7. "Closing achievement gaps, implying the elimination of variation between socioeconomic groups, is daunting but worth striving for.” (Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen, & Tamara Wilder Commentary, Nov. 29, 2006)
  8. In recognition of the 10th anniversary of NCLB, Edweek 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.
  9. This “word cloud” illustrates 280 responses to the question “What word or words do you associate with No Child Left Behind?,” which Education Week’s Commentary section posed on Facebook recently. The most-popular answers appear in the largest type and include “Flawed,” which came in at No. 1 with 74 votes, followed by “Failure” (49), “Testing” (29), and “Has to Go” (18). Find the complete NCLB package at on Jan. 5, 2012. 

  10. “It is absurd to expect schools to overcome the toll taken by discrimination, poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate health care, high crime, and substance-abuse rates, and broken or unstable family structures.” (Eric Schaps Commentary, May 9, 2007)

  11. We asked our @EdweekComm Twitter followers their thoughts on NCLB. Here are some of their responses. Question: #NCLB10 Has NCLB's focus on the test scores of often-underserved groups helped to narrow opportunity gaps? Why or why not?