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Important New Study: No Child Left Behind Hurts Long-Term Student Success

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As plenty of studies show, pressure and sanctions can get people to do mechanical tasks, but that kind of extrinsic motivation doesn’t encourage — and, in fact, discourages — work that requires creative and other higher ordering thinking (see The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students).

A new study via the Calder Center has just come out reinforcing those findings. It shows that, though many of the actions required by the No Child Left Behind Act resulted in more students actually going to school, they have ended up in reducing the development of Social Emotional Learning skills that are required for long-term student success, particularly among students of color and those who face other challenges.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding this post to:

The Best Posts & Articles On The New NCLB Reauthorization Bill

The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources

The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. This study sheds much light on the actual effects of the No Child Left Behind Act despite speckled evidence that claim it helped improved student achievement over the last decade and a half.

    According to Dee & Jacob (2011), the No Child Left Behind Act generated increases in the average math performance of fourth and eighth graders with an effect size of .23. Such findings also claim that there has been evidence of improvements particularly among traditionally low-achieving groups and at the lower percentiles. Caillier (2007) states that while many states were not on track towards making adequate yearly progress (AYP) in both reading and mathematics, there have been recorded improvements in student achievement in almost all states. However, the referenced study in this blog post demonstrates the need to look at the effect of the NCLB on non-cognitive abilities.

    According to the referenced study by Holbein and Ladd (2015), the accountability pressures of NCLB had also led to non-achievement student behaviors such as an increasing number of student misbehaviors, particularly among minority and low-performing populations. As discussed in the article, Jackson (2012) actually studies data of all public middle and high school students in North Carolina and finds that absences and suspensions affected teacher quality on non-cognitive skills can be determined by analyzing absences and suspensions.

    Why does this matter? Because non-cognitive skills not only are associated with academic performance, but also to other societal outcomes such as adult earnings to civic participation (Garcia, 2014). This list goes on. Garcia (2014) also claims that such non-cognitive skills can be nurtured based on an individual’s environment including socioeconomic status, family, etc.

    Thus, while politicians may rely on spotty research to argue that NCLB has been successful in increasing student achievement, this blog reveals the study that demonstrates NCLB’s unintended consequences. Nevertheless, the other correlational studies I referred to above illustrate how NCLB has overlooked the importance non-cognitive abilities and the accountability of student misbehaviors, which have an effect on students’ academic and non-academic lives in the long-run. Instead of fostering an environment that increases students’ non-cognitive abilities, NCLB has over-emphasized accountability in the wrong areas. This demonstrates how scientific research on policy’s unitnedned consequences is often overlooked, consequently focusing only on its seemingly positive effects.

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