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What if No Child Left Behind Worked and Nobody Realized It? Blame the Media.
The 74 | 9/30/15

Behind the Headline
Evaluating NCLB
Education Next| Summer 2010

In an article on The 74, Matt Barnum writes that the general public largely believes that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) didn’t work, but that this is wrong.

“The public perception,” says Stanford professor Tom Dee who has researched the law, “seems to be that No Child Left Behind has failed, but the available research evidence suggests it led to meaningful — but not transformational — changes in school performance.”

Barnum argues that one reason for this misperception is that journalists have largely covered the conflict over the law–“Teachers unions said this; civil rights groups said that. Republicans want less federal involvement; Democrats want more”–instead of looking at research on the impact of the law.


In 2010, Education Next published an analysis of the impact of NCLB by Tom Dee and Brian Jacob.

Dee also spoke with Education Next about why it is difficult to assess the impact of the law on student learning in this interview.

– Education Next

Last updated October 2, 2015