NCLB, fan or not- it was groundbreaking legislation.

by Victoria Robinson

Victoria Robinson, Brooklyn native,  is an educator passionate about having real life connections in her classroom. She focuses on teaching her students about self love, forgiveness, and the rewards of hard work. She has managed to combine her academic inspirations with her love of reading and loving her only daughter. 


Teacher education programs and certification routes vary from college to college to state to state without a unified system to determine teacher quality and effectiveness. The need for policy that sets the standard for teacher certification and accountability can possibly lead to a regulatory system that benefits all stakeholders. Determining why teacher education programs and certification routes have not been under the microscope per researcher Wilson (1995) is because for years teaching was not viewed or valued as a profession and was used as a placeholder as many decided on other careers. The impact of this resulted in classrooms and schools having revolving doors of educators and lack of consistency and commitment. Wilson (1995) also identifies that retention was a challenge and the stigma, low pay, and difficulties associated with teaching caused many to completely avoid it as a profession. These issues impacted how schools and students performed academically and lead to the passing of No Child Left Behind in 2002, which in 2015 was replaced with Every Student Succeeds Act. Although NCLB has been replaced its accountability directive directly connects to my problem of practice which aims to determine if teacher education programs impact teacher quality/accountability- which in turn impacts student performance.

What is the relationship between teacher accountability and student academic performance, the initial steps of teacher accountability begins with the completed teacher education program and certification process. Once the teacher enters the classroom communities want to be sure that the most qualified teacher has entered the room to teach their children. When NCLB was passed, the act included stipulations on teacher accountability in public schools. This was met with resistance and controversy however it set a standard and responsibility on the classroom teachers effectiveness which was contingently based on the students’ performance. NCLB attempted to set standards for teachers during the certification process and afterwards with required testing to demonstrate mastery of their content requiring that teachers earn a graduate degree to become educators. It was a controversial policy that was supported and challenged, and even with the high level of resistance, partially due to the teacher and school accountability parts of the bill, as well as withholding federal funds to schools who did not comply, many viewed it as targeting teachers with the blame. NCLB did however set standards and routines in place that later resulted in an improvement in reading and math scores nationally as reported in 2005 by The National Assessment of Educational Progress.  As my research continues, it will be interesting to compare the outcomes of NCLB compared to ESSA seeing that only NCLB addressed teacher accountability and effectiveness.

In 2001 President Bush proposed The No Child Left Behind Act out of concern of underperforming schools, academic progress disparity between white and black children, as well as concern that the American education system was not on par with other international education systems. The stipulations under the law were deemed as required, as there were mandates that schools must meet or additional action would be taken. The passing of the bill took less than a year, being introduced in March 2001, passing in the House of Representatives in May 2001, passing in the Senate in June 2001, agreed to by the House in December 2001, and signed by President George W. Bush in January 2002. The timeline of this legislation encountered numerous steps, after President’s Bush’s introduction to the House, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and review hearings were held. This initial stage included bill markup sessions with modifications and feedback provided to amend the bill. Once amendments were voted on, the bill continued to the next process of additional review by a rules committee. Weeks of debates occurred and when the amendments were ready for voting, the voting process was stalled when the House was unable to acquire quorum. Additionally, the process was stalled months later when the Senate insisted that another committee be created to review the suggested amendments made during the previous months.

During these months of drafting, making revisions, and debating on NCLB educators across the country were vocal on the policy, in favor and against. However, as an educator during that time, I could connect to the reason the policy was drafted based on the needs I witnessed in the public schools I taught in. It was obvious during those years that NCLB’s implementation stemmed from two main areas that appeared to be plaguing public schools, teacher hiring practices and defining teacher quality.


Teacher hiring practices

Over the last decade, earning a college degree has become more accessible and compact and available in numerous formats from traditional in person lecture format to online degree programs, as well as compact fellowships with trainings and workshops. The profession of education has experienced these changes with the inception of alternative teacher education programs including inner city based teaching fellowships and national organizations like Teach for America founded in 1989. The increase of these alternative routes of becoming an educator in addition to the traditional teacher education programs that include four year degrees earned with completion of 130+ credits has led to a discussion on the quality of teacher that each option provides and the modified preparation of teachers in America.

Hiring shifts are most evident, according to Feng (2015) in charter schools as there has been an increase since school year 2005-2006 in the hiring of TFA corps members in charter schools. In New York City alone in 2005 there were 488 crop members hired at 17 charter schools compared to data from 2000 where only 160 were hired from TFA and more than 300 were hired with traditional teacher certifications. Researcher Goldhaber (2015) shared findings that were even more concerning around teacher hiring. His research revealed that schools in urban areas that struggle with recruitment often turn to Teach for America for staffing needs and this can lead to one school district hiring a high number of teachers who are not equipped with the skill need in that school. The likelihood of hiring these teachers with limited training and experience and placing them in high need classes and subjects will have a long-term effect on the students and the community. Cranston (2012) surveyed and interviewed school leaders on what they look for in hires and investigated how teacher quality manifested into poor academic student performance.


Defining Teacher Quality

Defining teacher quality allows aspects of research to discuss possible influencers on student performance.  No Child Left Behind, implemented in 2002, plays a significant role in defining teacher quality. When No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed with the goal of closing achievement gaps, standards were set that included teacher quality requirements. Congress included that teachers who were certified alternatively and teachers who completed four-year preparation programs are both considered highly qualified (Hanna, 2011). No Child Left behind mandated that all K-12 teachers be “highly qualified” by 2006 and numerous quantitative analyses have resulted in the findings that teacher quality is among the most important school related factors affecting student academic achievement (Hanna, 2011).

NCLB was a ground breaking piece of legislation that aimed at returning the power and responsibility to schools, holding schools accountable, setting high stands for all stakeholders, and setting goals to improve the quality of education. Although NCLB was not completely successful, the policy did attempt to remedy an issue. Now that NCLB is defunct and ESSA has more inclusive and encouraging directives, perhaps the connection between teacher quality and student progress will become clearly defined.





























Cranston, J. (2012). Exploring School Principals Hiring Decisions: Fitting in and Getting Hired.


University of Manitoba. 2012.



Feng, L. (2015). Financial Incentives to Promote Teacher Recruitment and Retention: An


Analysis of the Florida Critical Teacher Shortage Problem. SREE Spring 2015




Goldhaber, D. (2015). Teacher Effectiveness Research and the Evolution of the U.S Teacher


Policy. The Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.


Hanna, P., Gimbert, B. (2011). Falling Flat: Certification as an Insufficient Indicator of


Teacher Quality. JNAAC, Vol 6, Number 2, Fall 2011.




National Council on Teacher Quality. Building Teacher Quality in Baltimore City


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Wilson, D. (1995). Learning from Experience: History and Teacher Education. American


Educational Research Association.