Reconsidering No Child Left Behind

Schools Weigh the Costs and Benefits of the Education Act

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Children reading at Wickliffe Elementary in Upper Arlington, Ohio

Children reading at Wickliffe Elementary in Upper Arlington, Ohio hide caption

toggle caption

The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act seeks to improve the nation's schools and make them more accountable. Yet some school officials, especially in rural areas, say the federal mandate is inflexible and their school systems cannot meet the demands.

No Child Left Behind Overview

The Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), dubbed the "No Child Left Behind Act" is based on four main points:

• School accountability for the results of all students -- schools must produce annual state and school district report cards.

• Schools should emphasize teaching methods based on scientific research.

• Parents are provided more choices, including the ability to transfer students from schools that consistently underperform.

• For schools that meet certain requirements, there is expanded local control and flexibility in the spending of federal funds.

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Several states are considering opting out of federal funds just to escape the federal mandate. Talk of the Nation takes a new look at President Bush's efforts to make schools accountable.


Delegate James Dillard, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, a Republican representing Fairfax County and chair of the House Education Committee

Eugene Hickok, acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education

Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy

Sharon Birnkrant, principal of the H.W. Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, N.Y.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from