Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind has published a number of criticism of the No Child Left Behind program.
'Gaming' the system
The system of incentives
and penalties sets up a strong motivation for schools, districts, and states to manipulate test results. For example, schools
have been shown to exclude minorities or other groups (to enhance apparent school performance; as many as 2 million students) and have employed creative reclassification of drop-outs (to reduce unfavorable statistics).
Critics argue that
these and other strategies create an inflated perception of NCLB's successes, particularly in states with high minority populations.
The incentives for
an improvement also may cause states to lower their official standards. Missouri, for example, improved testing scores but
openly admitted that they lowered the standards.
Problems with standardized tests
Critics have argued
that the focus on standardized testing (all students in a state take the same test under the same conditions) as the means of assessment
encourages teachers to teach a narrow subset of skills that will increase test performance rather than focus on deeper understanding
that can readily be transferred to similar problems. For example, if the teacher knows that all of the questions on a math test are simple addition equations (e.g.,
2+3=5), then the teacher might not invest any classtime on the practical applications of addition (e.g., story problems) so
that there will be more time for the material which is assessed on the test. This is colloquially referred to as "teaching
to the test."
Because each state
can produce its own standardized tests, a state can make its statewide tests easier to increase scores. A 2007 study by the U.S. Dept. of Education indicates that the observed differences in states' reported scores
is largely due to differences in the stringency of their standards.
have also been accused of cultural bias, and the practice of determining educational quality by testing students has been
called into question.
Violation of separation of church and state
Since the Act's inception,
President Bush has allowed "faith-based" groups to serve as private tutors, receiving public money, in public schools under
the act, which has angered some who campaign for separation of church and state. The US Department of Education's website
says: "No Child Left Behind provides opportunities for faith-based organizations to assist in educating children."
Incentives against low-performing students
Because the law's
response if the school fails to make adequate progress is not only to provide additional help for students, but also to impose
punitive measures on the school, the incentives are to set expectations lower rather than higher and to increase segregation by class and race and push low-performing students out of school altogether.
Under the NCLB act,
schools that do not meet certain established standards are given additional funds in an attempt to boost scores. Critics argue
that schools have less of an incentive to do better if they are already receiving more funds. However, schools are also given
bonuses for meeting yearly requirements. Since these requirements are given each year schools are less likely to rapidly increase
their scores as a slow and gradual improvement would be financially better. Another part of the NCLB act gives schools that
perform well awards and special recognition that opponents argue would encourage schools already doing well to push out disadvantaged
students even more.
Incentives against gifted, talented, and high performing students
has been slowly gathering across the country regarding local school systems reallocating money in such a manner as to only
fund teaching for core subjects or for remedial special education. In other words, NCLB forces school programs to ration education
in such a manner as to only guarantee mandated skill levels in reading, writing, and arithmetic to all students. All other
programs not essential to providing mandated skills to regular students or remedial special education students are being gutted
by those districts.  While Federal law is silent on the requirement for funding gifted programs, the practice can violate the mandates
of several states (such as Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania) to identify gifted students and provide them with a free appropriate public education commensurate to the actual abilities of these
State refusal to produce non-English assessments
Students who are learning
English have an automatic three-year-long window to take assessments in their native language, after which they must generally
demonstrate proficiency on an English language assessment. The local education authority may grant any individual English
learner another two years' testing in his or her native language on a case-by-case basis. In practice, however, only 10 states
choose to test any English language learners in their native language (almost entirely Spanish speakers). The vast majority of English language learners are given English language assessments.
State education budgets
Several years of weak
tax revenues, particularly in sales tax and capital gains taxes, have forced most states to make deep cutbacks in many areas, including education. The extra funds provided to a school under NCLB's provisions may be more than offset by budget cuts at the
state level, leaving them with both lower revenue and higher expenses.
NCLB's focus on math
and English language skills (and eventually science) may elevate scores on two fundamental skills while students lose the
benefits of a broad education.
A study conducted
by the American Heart Association and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education contends that diminishing physical
education in school has contributed to rising levels of childhood obesity.
The Center on Public
Education found that after implementation of NCLB, 71 percent of the districts surveyed had elementary schools that cut back
on instructional time for a subject to make room for more reading and math — the primary focus of the law.
Surveys of public
school principals indicate that since the implementation of NCLB, 71% believe instructional time has increased for reading,
writing, and math (subjects tested under the law), and decreased for the arts, elementary social studies, and foreign languages.
In some places, the
implementation of NCLB during a time of budget restraints has been blamed for the elimination of classes and activities which
are outside of NCLB's focus area. "It hurts me to give up art, but it hurts me even more to have kids who can't read," said school principal Kathy
Deck in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Narrow definition of research
Some school districts
object to the limitation created by the "scientifically based research standard." Research based on case studies, anecdotes,
personal experience, or other forms of qualitative research are generally excluded from this category. Furthermore, the inability
to employ random assignment for important educational predictors such as race and socio-economic status may exclude a large
amount of quasi-experimental work that could contribute to educational knowledge.
Limitations on local control
Some conservative or libertarian critics have argued that NCLB sets a new standard for federalizing education and setting a precedent
for further erosion of state and local control. Libertarians and some conservatives further argue that the federal government
has no constitutional authority in education, which is why participation in NCLB is technically optional: States need
not comply with NCLB so long as they also refuse federal funding for their schools.
Facilitates military recruitment
NCLB (In section 9528)
requires public secondary schools to provide military recruiters the same access to facilities as a school provides to higher education institution recruiters.
Schools are also required to provide contact information for every student to the military if requested. Students or parents
can opt out of having their information shared, and educational institutions receiving funding under the act are required
to inform parents that they have this option.  Currently, many school districts have a generic opt out form which, if filled out and turned in, withholds students'
information from college and job recruiters as well as the military.
Some students may not learn as well
Critics of the NCLB
requirement for "one high, challenging standard" claim that some students are simply unable to perform at the level for their
age, no matter how good the teacher is. While statewide standards reduce the educational inequality between privileged and underprivileged districts
in a state, they still impose a "one size fits all" standard on individual students. Particularly in states with high standards,
schools can be punished for not being able to dramatically raise the achievement of a student who has below-average capabilities.
of NCLB, such as a push for quality teachers and more professional development, place additional demands on local districts
and state education agencies. Some of these extra expenses are not fully reimbursed by NCLB monies.
Many early supporters
of NCLB criticize its implementation because it is not adequately funded by either the federal government or the states. Ted Kennedy, the legislation's initial sponsor, has stated: "The tragedy is that these long overdue reforms
are finally in place, but the funds are not."
particularly criticized the unwillingness of the federal government to fully fund the act. Noting that appropriations bills always originate in the House of Representatives, it is true that neither the Senate nor the White House has even requested federal funding up
to the authorized levels for several of the act’s main provisions. For example President Bush requested only $13.3 of
a possible $22.75 billion in 2006. President Bush's 2008 budget allots $61 billion for the Education Department, cutting funding by $1.3 billion
from last year. 44 out of 50 states would receive reductions in federal funding if the budget passes as is. 
Republicans in Congress
have viewed these authorized levels as spending caps, not spending promises, and have responded to criticisms by claiming
that President Bill Clinton never requested the full amount of funding authorized under the previous ESEA law. Some opponents argue that these funding shortfalls mean that schools faced with the system of escalating penalties
for failing to meet testing targets are denied the resources necessary to remedy problems detected by testing.
Federal funding is
particularly important because declining tax revenues at the state level have led many governors and legislatures to make
deep cuts in state education budgets. While some new money flows to local districts as a result of NCLB, the amount falls
far short of the cuts being made at the state level.