Claims Made in Opposition to the Act

Opponents view the following as possible negative effects of the act:

Supports early learning, an approach criticized in Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore.

(In section 9528) Requires public secondary schools to provide military recruiters the same access to facilities as a school provides to higher education institution recruiters. Schools are also required to provide contact information for every student to the military if requested, but students or parents can opt out of having their information shared.

Organizations such as ACORN have criticized the unwillingness of the federal government to "fully fund" the act. While promoted by President Bush and applauded by both parties, neither the Senate nor the White House has requested funding up to the authorized levels for several programs such as Title I. Republicans in Congress have viewed these authorized levels as spending caps, not spending promises, and have pointed out that President Clinton never requested the full amount of funding authorized under the previous ESEA law.

Testing is not coupled with plans and funding to remedy problems that might be detected by the testing. Instead, a system of increasing punishments is provided to take away resources from schools (i.e. from the students and employees of schools) which exhibit failing threshold scores.

Some school districts object to the limitation created by the "scientifically based research standard."

Because schools, districts, and states are punished if they fail to make adequate progress according to the goals they themselves establish, the incentives are to set expectations lower rather than higher and to increase segregation by class and race and push low-performing students out of school altogether . The schools, districts, and states are also potentially set to game the system by manipulating which students are included or excluded from test-taking (to enhance apparent school performance) and by creative reclassification of drop-outs (to reduce unfavorable statistics).

States and school districts should be granted greater freedom to target assistance to schools with the most extensive academic difficulties.

Proponents of a strong public education system believe NCLB will potentially pave the way for a system of Federally funded vouchers, significantly weakening public education.

NCLB violates conservative principles by federalizing education and setting a precedent for further erosion of state and local control. Libertarians and some conservatives believe that the federal government has no constitutional authority in education.

Students with learning disabilities do not receive extra help when taking the standardized tests, and can jeopardize the assigned rating the entire school is given. While the Federal Department of Education has taken steps to try to resolve the issue, many still believe they have not done enough.

Students who are learning English have a 3 year window to take assessments in their native language, after which they must demonstrate proficiency on an English language assessment. In practice, however, only 10 states test any students in their native language (almost entirely Spanish speakers). The vast majority of English language learners are given English language assessments, which are neither valid nor reliable in measuring what they know.

Focus on improving the average student's education may ignore individual differences between students, and potentially harm both special and gifted education programs.

Surveys of public school principals indicate that since the implementation of NCLB, instructional time has increased for reading, writing, and math (subjects tested under the law), and decreased for the arts, elementary social studies, and foreign languages. Some critics of the law suggest it is also responsible for the elimination of certain extracurricular activities.

NCLB places a focus on the standardized testing mandatory for each student, therefore forcing the educators to focus on points covered in testing rather than what they think is important for children to learn. Standardized tests can be irrelevant to students' developmental learning.

While addressing the issue of "achievement gaps" (such as that between affluent and disadvantaged students) NCLB fails to address how possible "effort gaps" between the same groups affect the achievement gap. An effort gap can be attributed to such factors as hours of quality study time per week, diligence in completing homework assignments, attitude, discipline, and parental support.

Standardized testing, the measure by which the Act evaluates competency, has been historically accused of cultural bias, and the practice of determining educational quality by testing students has been called into question.

NCLB is not longitudinal, in that it looks at students in certain grades from year to year. Thus, the same group of students are not tested to measure the difference in performance between years, and differences between classes from year to year is ignored. Rather it compares one group in a particular grade level to a totally different group the next year in that grade level.

NCLB places the focus on how the school is progressing toward AYP not the individual student.