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Evaluation of a public policy is of utmost importance. Evaluation helps to understand and interpret the policy better. Proper systematic evaluation of a policy helps to find out its merits and demerits that are directly proportional to the impact of the policy on the targeted population or group.

The drawbacks or loopholes of the policy are highlighted by way of evaluation and helps to ascertain whether a new policy is required to replace it. This paper strives to find out the tools and standards to evaluate the drawbacks of the No Child Left Behind Act and the need for its replacement with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Overview of the No Child Left Behind Act

No Child Left Behind Act 2001 (NCLB Act) was a legislation of the US Congress which was made to give effect to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ( 2018). This Act grew out of the notion that the American education system was not competitive enough in accordance to international standard. The Act focused on boosting the education for students in special education, poor and minority children, and the new English learning students. The Act made sure that the schools employ trained and qualified teachers and gave a strategic plan to hire them (Elpus, 2014).

No Child Left Behind Act 2001 (NCLB Act) was an Act of the United States Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Act expanded the scope of law providing that the states should introduce a system for school-accountability to be applied to the students and public schools of the state ( 2018). The civil rights advocates praised the Act for its focus on improving the education for economically backward, disabled students and new English learners in 2002. Additionally, the Act obliges the schools to employ qualified and appropriate teachers and states to prepare a plan to hire the teachers. The schools were required to take a step towards both setting and attaining proficiency goals by way of the imposition of yearly progress checkpoints, as well as a system of organized consequences that were imposed upon the schools failing to meet said goals and/or checkpoints (McGuinn, 2016).

The No Child Left Behind Act was designed in a manner meant to increase the student achievement levels whilst reducing the gap between the economically and socially disadvantaged and advantaged student subgroups. A set of tests were created by the National Assessment of Educational Progress to measure the outcome of the policies provided in the Act (Ahn & Vigdor, 2014). The Act generated some data on the achievements of the students regarding their math and reading scores. Said data has aided policymakers and other educational researchers in their work.

However, in as much as the Act moved to aid in the progress of students and leveling out the learning curve, there were a bevy of disadvantages and flaws that proved prevalent as a result of the implementation of the Act. The analysis will seek to both evaluate and analyze those, which are considered residual consequences as a result of the main objective of the NCLB Act and its process of implementation.

Drawbacks and Shortcomings of the No Child Left Behind Act

It will highlight the Act’s main focus, which was that of accountability; having been more punitive in nature than constructive. This resulted in a lack of development within the students; referencing skillset, knowledge retention, and implementation beyond the point of testing. Sadovnik et al (2013) states that the Act should give focus to the overall improvement of the student, not merely his ability to successfully improve his grade. Additionally, the analysis will expound upon the objective focus of the Act and its missed contents. Said focal point should encompass not only the student’s trouble areas, but also that which should be and can be implemented as a means to address said trouble areas in a manner that perpetuates retention of the materials learned. With regard to this, the analysis will scrutinize the lack of attention to the student’s areas of strength; highlighting the lack of mental exercises conducive to building upon said strength(s).

Moreover, the analysis will offer solutions to the residual consequences that are both logical and cost-effective. For example, the Act should have a set of funds set aside to give special attention to those students that have trouble understanding both the concepts and application of any one subject area. Also, as a means to ensure that all needs of the students are met (educationally), the educators should be evaluated in a manner that ensures that the focal point of the subject matter is of the educational topics (regarding concept, application, and retention) as a whole, not just those the students will be tested on. This can be attained through the implementation of quarterly checkpoints of the educators as well as their course curriculum.

The analysis will offer the solution of amending the NCLB Act on a much broader spectrum, not just in specific areas. For example, the main objective should be expanded to increase the level of student academic ability as a whole. The factors of comprehension, retention, and application should be given equal attention within the implementation and core sub-objectives of the Act. Neither of the three should be sacrificed for the betterment of the other. The students’ overall learning ability should be addressed both conceptually and technically, not one or the other.

The final analysis will consist of the aforementioned problems that have arisen as a result of the NCLB Act and the accompanying solutions. However, each will be more in-depth as it pertains to the problem(s) as a whole as well as the solutions. Scholarly and academic articles, journals, statistics, and books will be utilized in a manner conducive to research as a means of supplying supporting evidence.

Tools and Standards for Evaluating the No Child Left Behind Act

The desired outcome from the paper is to establish the loopholes and drawbacks of the NCLB Act and to confirm the requirement of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The outcome is important to understand the significance of the new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for its better implementation.

The main research questions of the study are:

  • What were the drawbacks of the NCLB Act?
  • Why was the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) needed to be legislated?

The NCLB Act was made to involve and hold the federal government more responsible for the academic growth and development of the students. It strived to encourage the progress of certain special group of students like the new English learners, the financially backward and minority students, and the students in special education. The policy was severely unfunded by several states, including the federal government, as claimed by education advocated. As argued by Klein (2018), the law is criticized for increasing the federal footprint in K-12 education, as it focused too much on mathematics and reading tests and ignored the other subjects like social studies, arts and foreign languages. Major parts of NCLB Act was held to be problematic as it lacked congressional update with due time. These shortcomings paved the way for the legislation of the ESSA (Klein, 2018). This new Act strives to roll back the federal government’s footprint in education policy as much as it can, ranging from exam standards, and curriculum and teacher quality to poorly performing schools ("Every Student Succeeds Act - Education Week", 2018). These factors of the legislations can only be found by evaluating them using the different standards and tools.

According to Newcomer, Hatry and Wholey (2015), Policy Evaluation refers to the principles that evaluate and the method that examines the content, application and the impact of a Policy Evaluation is the activity, which helps to understand the merit, value and the purpose of a particular policy ("Environmental policy tools and evaluation - OECD", 2018). Developing and applying policy strategies are extremely important to comprehend the drawbacks and loopholes of a public policy so that it can be revised as per the desire standard. Policies are used to address different issues of the society yet policy strategies, sometimes, lack an adequate evidence base ("Environmental policy tools and evaluation - OECD", 2018). Therefore, certain tools or evaluation standards are used to measure the loopholes, determine its cure and if required provide recommendation for revision or new legislation.

The drawbacks of the No Child left Behind (NCLB) Act are to be determined through the following categories of tools and standards for carrying out the evaluation process ("Step by Step – Evaluating Violence and Injury Prevention Policies", 2018).

  • Performance Measurement by engaging stakeholders

Importance of Policy Evaluation

The tool of performance management helps to determine the rate of performance of the Statute or public policy in this regard. By the word ‘performance’ the functionality of the policy is mostly taken into consideration. The performance of the policy is determined by the feedbacks that are collected from the stakeholders, that is, the group of people for whom the policy was framed. Therefore, Kitchen and Berk, (2016) held that the people who are directly governed by the policy must be engaged and taken feedbacks from, regarding the functionality of the policy. They are the people to comment, as they are the ones who are affected because of its loopholes and shortcomings.

  • Utility of the Act

The utility of the policy is to be determined by the statistical values and the again from the feedback of the people for whom the policy has been made. The statistical changes that are calculated by the economists and political scientists form the major view whether the particular policy has a utility and whether it is serving its purpose well. The statistical data would give a clear picture of it. The Act did not serve its purpose clearly and for that, it was replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

  • Feasibility

The feasibility tool helps to determine whether the evaluation procedures are practical or not, based on the time, expertise and resources allocated for the evaluation. For example, the method of evaluation of the NCLB Act and finding out its drawbacks are checked and confirmed by the feasibility tool.   

  • Propriety

Propriety helps to determine whether the evaluation of the policy is being conducted in an ethical and fair way. It helps to find out the whether any of the provisions of the policy is violating the general public policy or even worse, the Constitution of the country. As rightly pointed out by Ford & Grace (2017), it is like a reality check for the severe scanning and criticism under which the policy has to go through.

  • Accuracy

The standard of Accuracy helps to determine whether the collected data or the conclusion deduced is accurate or not.  It gives a clear picture of the accurate or the inaccurate steps taken by the person evaluating the policy, which comprises the needs of the stakeholder.

Therefore, the drawbacks include poor performance, lack of utility, feasibility, propriety and accuracy of the NCLB Act, which has paved the way for the legislation of the ESSA. The drawbacks could be more accurately accessed by giving a thorough reading of the NCLB Act and the commentaries, journals and articles about its implementation. Although there are counter arguments by Von Der Embse, Barterian and Segool (2013) who said in their book/journal that students with high test-anxiety had majorly benefitted from the implementation of the NCLB Act, which served different, and alternative approaches as opposed to conventional method of evaluating students on the basis of tests. Therapeutic approaches like biofeedback, priming competency, behaviour therapy, et cetera helped the students to improve.


The failure of the NCLB Act has paved the way for the legislation of ESSA. To evaluate the failure of NCLB Act and the implementation of the ESSA the following tools and standards are used:

  • Evaluating the content of the policy

The content of the previous policy that has been replaced is initially evaluated and on finding the shortcomings, a newer legislation is drafted. The new legislation needs evaluation as well for its better understanding and interpretation.

  • Evaluating the implementation of the policy

The new and old policy needs to be evaluated based on its implementation. It needs to be found out the reason as to why the old Act did not work. The shortcomings and the challenges of the implementation of the previous policy needs to be analyzed so that the need for the new legislation can be supported. The implementation and the effectiveness of the new policy needs evaluation to find out whether it would serve the purpose for which it was framed (McGuinn, 2016).

  • Evaluating the impact of the policy

The impact of a legislation on the society and its stakeholders is its most significant phenomenon (Reed & Albakry, 2017). The impact of the NCLB Act on its targeted population was most definitely evaluated and on finding severe drawbacks, it was replaced by the ESSA. Presently, the impact and significance of ESSA needs thorough evaluation to comprehend whether it is successfully serving its purpose (McGuinn, 2016).

Therefore, by evaluating the area of implementation, content and the impact of the ESSA it is found out that the states has been empowered to control the school as they are obliged to report the capabilities of the student. According to Darrow, (2016) it is a significant step that has been taken towards the right direction to provide quality service to the students who are in need of it. The analysis and evaluation would laid down that ESSA has a broader implementation than that of NCLB, as the state has been made responsible for taking care of the issues that may generate out of the policy. ESSA lays down that the states must establish long-term goals, which would comprise interim measurement of progress for evaluating the progress of the students.

The proposed study includes an explanatory research design, which will help to find out the problems associated with No child left behind Act-2001, which was not well researched before. Thus, explanatory research design demands priority and delivers a better-researched model, which will further help to explore more about the Acts.

Explanatory research design has been selected, as it will help to find the issues that were not investigated in depth (Lewis, 2015). The research design will help to find out a conclusive research evidence which would help to derive a suitable insight about the elements of the stated Act and its impact.

In order to evaluate the collected data on the chosen topic, data will be compared and contrasted to the existing findings of studies performed on the stated Act.  Elements of the stated Act and its impact will be compared with the findings related to its outcome in the present days. However, in particular the evaluation process includes the qualitative method.

Major elements of chosen explanatory research design are such as Literature Review, intensive study of every single issue, Focus Group Research and Case Analysis method (Flick, 2015). However, in the proposed study Literature review and Case Analysis method will be used to interpret the data.

As the proposed study includes a secondary research analysis, collection of secondary data is a fundamental requirement of the study. So, secondary data has been collected from reliable and valid sources such as journal articles on Acts, Books, acknowledged blogs and articles as well as other wide reading sources. On the other hand, primary data has not been used in the study, as the proposed study does not target any particular individual, agency or any other third party.

In order to measure the process of variables in the evaluation process, each factor associated with the Act has been compared to its impact on people. For example, the element of No Child left behind Act 2001 will be compared to the impact it has created on people. However, findings of the existing on the element as well as the views of scholars holds a significant place in the discussion and in the evaluation.

The major advantages of comparing data findings with the existing ones is that the issues related to the Act and its sources can be analyzed more accurately because the evaluation process includes several validated journal articles on the Acts which includes different plots with the judgments many scholars.  However, the major drawback of the process is that it does not include any real-world facts and findings, which means the real impact of the Act, will not be considered in the process. Had the process included few individuals who have encountered the scenario related to the Act, the outcome of the process would have provided outcomes that are more relevant.

As the proposed study includes an explanatory research design, it does not include any particular or targeted group in the process. There are two different types of research sampling namely probability sampling and non-probability sampling method (Neuman, 2013). However, considering the non-probability sampling method, the proposed study proceeds with theoretical sampling which is one of the significant categories of non-probability sampling mostly used for the secondary research analysis. Therefore, theoretical process, hence, will allow the process of data collection for generating theories in which the researcher collects the data, codes and analyses as well as eventually makes the decision of making the further discussion regarding the theories. Therefore, the sampling will include journal articles, codes and scholarly analysis.

As discussed above, the major sources are journal articles, books, published blogs on Acts and wide reading sources. All data sources are valid as they are acknowledged scholars.

The collected data first will be converted to meaningful format as that it becomes easy to interpret. The collected data will be represented with graph and tables to indicate the impact of the element on the chosen Act. Likewise, to analyse the data, thematic analysis method will be used in which a set of themes will be developed considering elements of Act. This means that the themes will be derived from secondary data sources. Each theme will cover the findings of three journal articles.

On the basis of the discussion and evaluation, it is estimated that new elements related to No Child left Behind Act 2001 can be explored which requires further medication for the betterment of the application.


Therefore, to conclude it needs to be pointed out that evaluation of the public policy is of utmost importance. Supporting the thesis statement, the paper has tried to lay down a proposal for evaluating the NCLB policy. In addition, the study found out that the policy has been replaced with the ESSA, which now strives to provide the educational benefit to its target population. Further, it is not only important for understanding the drawbacks of a policy but also for comprehending the need for legislating a new policy that would strive to mend the shortcomings of its predecessor. Evaluation of a public policy requires the utilization of various tools like the performance measurement tool, utility factory, feasibility, and propriety and accuracy standards. In addition, evaluation of the content, implementation and the impact of a policy is of utmost importance. These tools would help to determine whether a policy is fit for the public at large, and if not a revision is recommended. The research methodologies that are used in the study have helped to frame the evaluation proposal, which found out that the drawbacks of the NCLB Act have paved the way for ESSA, for serving the targeted group better. The approach of NCLB was problematic, yet it tried to ensure the success of the underserved students as much as the regular students. Now, the ESSA has made the states majorly responsible for establishing a system for supporting the students to achieve success.  The merits of the ESSA is expected to cover for the demerits of the NCLB that required a re-legislation on a similar matter.


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Flick, U. (2015). Introducing research methodology: A beginner's guide to doing a research project. Sage.

Ford, O. D., & Grace, R. (2017). The Impact of Poverty on Student Outcomes. The Alabama Journal of Educational Leadership, 15.

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Klein, A. (2018). No Child Left Behind Overview: Definitions, Requirements, Criticisms, and More. Retrieved from

Lewis, S. (2015). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Health promotion practice, 16(4), 473-475.

McGuinn, P. (2016). From no child left behind to the every student succeeds act: Federalism and the education legacy of the Obama administration. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 46(3), 392-415.

McGuinn, P. (2016). From no child left behind to the every student succeeds act: Federalism and the education legacy of the Obama administration. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 46(3), 392-415.

Neuman, W. L. (2013). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Pearson education.

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Reed, K. N., & Albakry, M. A. (2017). School Librarians' Views of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Perceived Impact on Literacy Instruction Role and Career. Tennessee Libraries, 67(1).

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