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New study shows No Child Left Behind not so bad after all

The No Child Left Behind program (NCLB) initiated by the Bush administration had minimal effects on the rates of job satisfaction among teachers. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Jason A. Grissom of Vanderbilt University, Sean Nicholson-Crotty of Indiana University, and James R. Harrington of the University of Texas at Dallas. The study was published in the June 10, 2014, edition of the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan addresses the National School Board Association's Federal Relations Network Conference at the Hilton Washington Hotel January 28, 2013, in Washington.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The study examined the morale, desire to continue in the teaching profession, and workload of four waves of teachers from the National Center for Education Statistics' Schools and Staffing Survey. The participants were a nationally representative sample of 140,000 regular, full-time public school teachers. The sampling was spaced ten years and two years prior to the implementation of the NCLB program and one year and five years after the implementation.

The researchers claim that the assumption that added accountability was the source of extra stress and a decrease in morale that led teachers to leave the teaching profession was anecdotal at best. The study compared previous studies of the effect of the NCLB program on teachers and found no previous large-scale study that justified low morale or a high desire to abandon teaching as a profession. "Simply put, our results do not support media accounts or policy rhetoric that portrays NCLB as undermining teacher morale and intent to stay in the profession." the study concludes.

Eight percent more people in the regular, full-time public school teaching profession planned to stay in the profession five years after the NCLB was implemented than did eight years before the program began. The majority of teachers involved in the study claimed they had a higher workload but did not fault the accountability aspects of the NCLB. A majority of teachers claimed that the NCLB gave them more autonomy in the classroom. The NCLB has been decimated by waivers since 2012.

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