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NCLB-Special Education

NCLB-Special Education

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) 2001 was implemented between 2002 and 2015. The Act affected all public schools offering K-12 education. It was intended to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Before its existence, the focus on disadvantaged students was minimal. For instance, special-needs learners could not access general education or sit state-level tests. Thus, NCLB aimed to increase learners’ access to education opportunities. The primary learners’ categories that would benefit were special needs students, learners from low-income families, minority groups, and ESL learners (Lewis, Hancock, & James, 2008).

Impact of NCLB

Since its inception, significant controversy has surrounded NCLB. Despite the controversy, the Act has affected education positively. However, despite the positive effects of the Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act replaced the NCLB (Dee & Jacob, 2010). On the positive side, struggling learners such as ESL and special students could learn alongside their counterparts. This inclusion overturned the existent perception that such individuals perform poorly. They lacked the ground level to compete with other regular learners.

The requirement to report students based on their unique aspects allowed administrators to assess the progress of each population and institution. Due to the Act, such students have access to more support and assistance from the faculty. As a result, more graduates were recorded among students with learning disabilities. In 2002, 57 percent of such students graduated, and 68 percent in 2011. This increment confirms the positive effect that NCLB had on inclusivity.

The need for accountability among instructors led to improving instruction (Whitney & Candelaria, 2017). Teachers were held accountable for their student’s performance. At the same time, those against the NCLB may argue that teachers barely upheld teamwork; it is essential to highlight that their autonomy and class administration improved significantly. Most teachers enjoy their careers because they involve transforming the lives of young people. Therefore, very few of these teachers could ascertain that NCLB’s recommendations were a distraction (Grissom, Nicholson-Crotty, & Harrington, 2014).

The Act promoted equality for all learners and institutions’ compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). According to IDEA, institutions were required to include students with learning disabilities in the ‘least restrictive environments,’ general education classrooms. This inclusion was not mandatory. Administrators would determine the possibility of inclusion. Therefore, there was no way of assessing whether learners with disabilities were included in general classrooms. The creation of NCLB changed this scenario by requiring institutions to ensure that learners with disabilities were treated like the rest. Schools that failed to adhere faced sanctions because they barred disadvantaged learners from improving their achievements. It promoted transparency (Dee & Jacob, 2010). This resulted in the inclusion of special needs learners within the educational system.

Furthermore, students with learning disabilities could afford to miss tests because their participation or the lack of it did not affect the assessment. Their participation was not critical. NCLB changed the scenario by allowing special needs students to study in a typical environment. This means that a blind student needs braille to participate in a general classroom instead of a separate class. Similarly, learners with emotional disorders need aides within their proximity while in a public classroom (Berwick, 2015).

Students learning English as a second language also benefit from the NCLB (Menken, 2010). Like students with special needs, English Language Learners (ELL) received more attention from their institutions. The schools were required to set standards for these learners, administer tests, and assess progress. As a result, funding for the group has increased significantly. Teachers who are more qualified to teach ESL students are hired. In addition, the instructional materials were improved. These actions were intended to achieve the standards and regulations the NCLB spelled out.

Furthermore, ELL teachers have been required to undergo formal training, which develops their skills and expertise in instruction. This is a positive result that most ESL professionals hail as an outcome of NCLB (L., LaCava, & Graner, 2004). The legal requirement for ESL practitioners and educators is deemed critical for ELLs. The ability to speak English as a native language no longer qualifies an individual as an ESL practitioner. The ELLs are exposed to competent teachers who have satisfied the requirements set forth by the law (Abedi, 2004).

NCLB was also intended to address the needs of students of color, such as Hispanics and African Americans. The gap between Caucasian students and those of color has been historically wide. This is due to the policies that encouraged segregation in the past (Lewis, Hancock, & James, 2008). The NCLB did not bridge this gap. Instead, it stimulated performance improvement among all students regardless of race. Since its emphasis was on exceptional learners from all races, all improved performance (Harrisson-Jones, 2007), which widened the gap further. However, this is sufficient to dismiss NCLB because it was not created for students of color. Instead, it sought to improve educational performance for all learners and ensure education quality and access are revamped (Dillon, 2009).


NCLB did not leave any child behind. Despite being replaced with a new act, the NCLB improved the educational environment for ELLs, students of color, and special needs students. However, it did not reduce the gap between Whites and Hispanics or African Americans. Regardless, it improves their performance and ensures teachers are more competent and accountable. It also promotes mandatory compliance with the IDEA.


Abedi, J. (2004). The No Child Left Behind Act and English language learners: Assessment and Accountability Issues. Educational Researchers, 33(1), 4-14.

Berwick, C. (2015). No Child Left Behind’s One Big Achievement? The Atlantic.

Dee, T. S., & Jacob, B. A. (2010). The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Students, Teachers, and Schools.

Dillon, S. (2009). ‘No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap—the New York Times.

Grissom, J. A., Nicholson-Crotty, S., & Harrington, J. R. (2014). Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers’ Work Environments and Job Attitudes. Sage Journals, 36(4). doi:

Harrisson-Jones, L. (2007). No Child Left Behind and Implications for Black Students. The Journal of Negro Education, 76(3), 346-356.

L., S. R., LaCava, D. G., & Graner, P. S. (2004). The No Child Left Behind Act: Challenges and implications for educators. Intervention in School and Clinic, 40(2), 67-75.

Lewis, C. W., Hancock, S., & James, M. (2008). African American Students and No Child Left Behind Legislation: Progression or Digression in Educational Attainment. Multicultural Learning and Teaching, 3(2). doi:10.2202/2161-2412.1033

Menken, K. (2010). NCLB and English Language Learners: Challenges and Consequences. Theory into Practice, 49(2), 121-128. doi:10.1080/00405841003626619

Whitney, C. R., & Candelaria, C. A. (2017). The Effects of No Child Left Behind on Children’s Socioemotional Outcomes. AERA Open. doi:


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NCLB-Special Education

NCLB-Special Education

Write an essay addressing whether NCLB leaves some students behind. The report should have appropriate APA formatting and contain 5-10 current citations from peer-reviewed journals.

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