No Child Left Behind - Issue Summary

Was New Hampshire right to withdraw from No Child Left Behind?

No Child Left BehindBy: LFDA Editor

The federal No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001 under the Bush Administration, was meant to provide benchmarks of quality for America's schools in order to improve the nation's public education.


But the question, over a decade later, was whether the law was helping or hurting schools, particularly those in the Granite State.

In its most recent annual assessment of schools, using the "No Child" criteria, the state Department of Education found that 66 percent of the school districts and 71 percent of individual schools failed to make "Adequate Yearly Progress" in one or more areas.

Among the 19 criteria to achieve a passing grade in Adequate Yearly Progress -- known as AYP -- are:
performance targets through standardized testing for students in reading and mathematics,
meeting state targets for student participation, attendance, and high school graduation.

Individual district and school reports are available on the state education department's web site.

Here are some pros and cons of the legislation, according to Educational Research Newsletter:

Why bother with reform?

PRO: Reform is needed to counter declining trends in SAT and ACT scores and the mediocre performance of U.S. students in international rankings.
CON: SAT scores declined during the 1970s and 1980s because more students aspired to go to college and took the tests, not because of performance factors.

Why standardized testing?

PRO: It measures a common core of knowledge that teachers should teach and students should learn. Without common standards, it is difficult to compare grades across teachers and schools.
CON: By imposing standards on students' minds we are, in effect, depriving them of their fundamental intellectual freedom by applying one standard set of knowledge.

President Barack Obama offered legislation that would replace the law’s pass-fail school grading system with one that would measure individual students’ academic growth and judge schools based not on test scores alone but also on indicators like pupil attendance, graduation rates and learning climate.

States can request a waiver from the NCLB requirements. In September 2012, New Hampshire applied for such a waiver.  Throughout 2013 New Hampshire worked with the U.S. Department of Education to revise the application.  The federal government approved the waiver in June 2013.

What to you think? Were the schools in your district helped or hurt by the No Child Left Behind Act standards?

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Take Action

If you are interested in No Child Left Behind in NH and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on How to Take Action.

  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issues.

  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate

2. Contact the Committee chairperson or members of the House Education Committee or the Senate Education Committee – these are the committees that oversee this issue.

3. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan

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What do you think of No Child Left Behind?  Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

In September 2012, then Gov. John Lynch applied for a waiver from No Child Left Behind.

The government approved the waiver in June 2013, with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan saying New Hampshire had demonstrated that it has college- and career-ready expectations for all students and a high-quality plan to implement an accountability system.

Said Gov. Maggie Hassan: “New Hampshire is now free to pursue more effective and innovative ways to address the needs of all our students and prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century economy. By receiving this waiver, New Hampshire will continue to protect its most underserved students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction while also pursuing needed comprehensive reforms and protecting local control.”