No Child Left Behind

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama a few months ago.

public domain

Congress recently authorized a complete rewrite of the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act. What does that mean for Illinois?

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

This week, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act --- a rewrite of No Child Left Behind. The new law, referred to as ESSA, passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.

It replaces the wildly unpopular law that's come to be known as No Child Left Untested. Educators are so enthusiastic about this rewrite, the heads of two Illinois teachers unions flew to Washington to witness its signing.


After more than two years of trying, Illinois has finally won a waiver from the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind. Brian Mackey reports on what this means for schools in Illinois.

  The short answer is not much.

Illinois has already been moving beyond the No Child Left Behind law for some time, even as it waited for permission from the federal government.

Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Education, says there were problems with No Child Left Behind.


 “No one likes how NCLB labels schools as failures, even when they’re making real gains.”– U.S. Secretary of Education 
Arne Duncan

 Every student in America proficient in reading and math skills by 2014.

It’s a laudable goal, but educators, reformers and politicians alike say it has set the country’s schools up for failure and may be depriving children of a well- rounded education. 

At East Alton-Wood River High School, as well in schools across the state, the measurement of academic improvement is based on a single test given over two days once a year. “It’s silly to measure a school’s performance by that,” says the Superintendent.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Soon after taking office, President Barack Obama’s administration made a symbolic gesture that likely foreshadows changes coming to the controversial No Child Left Behind law: The red schoolhouse built over the entrance to the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., by President George W. Bush’s administration was torn down. The No Child Left Behind name was removed from building signage and stationery. Word went out to call the law by its 1965 name: the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA in fed-speak.