No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law in 2002, the latest version of the long-standing Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Its provisions, such as testing grades 3-8 annually in reading and math and punitive sanctions, took effect over the next several years. The law is seven years overdue for reauthorization by Congress. This year, both the House and Senate are showing strong interest in voting for a new version.
Resistance to the overuse and misuse of standardized tests is expanding rapidly across the nation (Guisbond, 2014). The movement’s goals are to roll back testing overkill, eliminate damaging high stakes, and create an assessment system that supports teaching and learning while providing useful information to parents, communities and states. Some states have responded to the uprising by temporarily pausing some sanctions for teachers and schools.
States, districts and schools sometimes claim they will lose federal Title I funds if parents, students or teachers boycott standardized tests required under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As far as we know, no school or district anywhere in the country has ever been penalized for failing to test enough (95%) of its students. Further, seven states (Utah, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and California) have laws allowing opt out, and none have been sanctioned.