NCLB was/is an unfunded federal mandate that put states and school districts in the position of having to pay for - among other things - millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of multiple-choice test materials as well as the salaries for teachers, administrators, and support personnel to administer the tests, tests that may or may not reflect the state grade level or content area standards, stuff that teachers have been told to teach all year.
And districts and schools that fail to show adequate yearly progress, which is partially based factors that are completely out of the control of schools, like attendance or the percentage of the student population that is SPED or are ELLs, get even more instructional money taken away from them. Some of the money is completely gone, but some of it is replaced with money that can only be used in very narrow ways (e.g., test prep).
The result is that kids in schools that serve large poor and minority populations spend great chunks of their school days preparing so they test well on standardized tests. And the end-of-year tests have begat quarterly - and sometimes more frequent - benchmark assessments, so that days of instructional time are lost in testing and testing to prepare for testing. In elementary school subjects like art, music, and social studies, and science are either minimized or not taught at all because they’re not tested. I have personal knowledge of elementary schools where five of the seven-and-a-half-hour school day is devoted to skill, drill and kill mathematics and decoding.
Another poster mentioned reading books from the library. Ironically, under NCLB school library funds have been slashed because no one’s shown a significant correlation between having a well-stocked school library and increased test scores.
What Duncan and Obama want to do is give states more freedom and say into how Title I and other monies are spend. Which is a good thing for schools, and students. If this spells the beginning of the end of NCLB, that also be a good thing for schools and students. About the only NCLB provision I agreed with what the requirement that all teachers be highly qualified. This has eliminated cases of teachers teaching classes they don’t hold credentials for.