Working Paper: States Implementation Responses to NCLB

Full Title: Did States Use Implementation Discretion to Reduce the Stringency of NCLB? Evidence from a Database of State Regulations

Full Abstract: When No Child Left Behind (NCLB) became law in 2002, it was viewed as an e ort to create uniform standards for students and schools across the country. More than a decade later, we know surprisingly little about how states actually implemented NCLB and the extent to which state implementation decisions managed to undo the centralizing objectives of the law. This paper introduces a state level measure of NCLB stringency that helps shed light on these issues. The measure is available for 43 states and covers most years under NCLB (2003-2011). Importantly, the measure does not depend on population characteristics of the state. It varies only because of state level decisions about rule exemptions, standards, and proficiency trajectories. Results show that despite national trends in states’ implementation of accountability stringency, schools’ and students’ experiences of NCLB varied greatly by region and state characteristics.

EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series No. 51. June 2016.