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No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) | ESEA

No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) | ESEA

It's Time for a Change.

No Child Left Behind  (NCLB) is the current incarnation of President Lyndon Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), whose purpose was to raise achievement and close achievement gaps. NEA strongly supports these goals and is working to give all children great public schools. But educators know that NCLB as currently written can’t get us there.  

In June 2013, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved Chairman Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) ESEA reauthorization bill, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (S. 1094), on a 12-10 party-line vote. NEA urged the committee to keep equity and fairness front and center, along with shared responsibility for student success, and to adopt amendments that help achieve that goal and reject those that do not. NEA took no position on the base bill, finding some promising improvements in it but too many areas still needing work. There is no immediate timeline for the bill to reach the Senate floor.

In July 2013, the House of Representatives passed its version of ESEA reauthorization, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), by a vote of 221-207. Every  Democrat and 12 Republicans voted “no” on final passage. NEA opposed the deeply flawed bill because it erodes the historical federal role in public education: targeting resources to marginalized student populations as a means of helping to ensure equity of opportunity for all students.  

NEA also took positions on 18 amendments to the bill and scored two important wins: inclusion of a provision requiring multiple measures of student success—not just test scores—to be part of the accountability system and deletion of highly problematic language to prevent federally-mandated teacher evaluation singularly based on student achievement data without any protections of collective bargaining.

NEA’s message to Congress is to provide more flexibility, empower educators, and focus on ESEA’s original promise of equity and fairness for students. That message resonates powerfully, especially when it comes from those who know best: classroom teachers and education support professionals.

Take action: Tell your Senators to get ESEA reauthorization right.

Letter to Congress
List of Elimination Programs

More About the No Child Left Behind Law


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