Skip to main content

No Child Left Behind: An Interim Evaluation of Its Effects on Learning Using Two Interrupted Time Series Each With Its Own Non-Equivalent Comparison Series (WP-09-11)

Manyee Wong, Thomas D. Cook, and Peter Steiner

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) holds schools accountable for student academic performance in a way that increases federal control over American public education. Under the law, schools must ensure that an increasing percentage of students make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward state-specified proficiency standards. The longer a school fails to make AYP the more severe are the corrective actions it must undertake. NCLB was introduced in January 2002, and the IPR researchers' evaluation of it uses National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) trend and main data between 1990 and 2009 for fourth-grade reading and fourth- and eighth-grade math. Two interrupted time-series designs are implemented, each with its own kind of non-equivalent control series. One set of analyses is at the national level and contrasts public and Catholic schools; the other is at the state level and contrasts those states whose proficiency standards result in many schools needing to implement NCLB-required changes with those states whose standards require fewer schools to make changes. Analyses consistently show that NCLB improved math at both fourth and eighth grade in both main and trend NAEP analyses. However, fourth-grade reading was not positively affected by NAEP in any analysis.

Manyee Wong, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Thomas D. Cook, Professor of Sociology, Psychology, Education and Social Policy; and Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Peter Steiner, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Download PDF