Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers and Their Work Environment
Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers and Their Work Environment
Published online first in:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
June 10, 2014

Jason A. Grissom, Vanderbilt University
Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Indiana University
James R. Harrington, University of Texas at Dallas


Several recent studies have examined the impacts of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on school operations and student achievement. We complement that work by investigating the law’s impacts on teachers’ perceptions of their work environments and related job attitudes, including satisfaction and commitment to remain in teaching. Using four waves of the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey, which cover the period from 1994 to 2008, we document overall trends in teacher attitudes across this time period and take advantage of differences in the presence and strength of prior state accountability systems and differences in likely impacts on high- and low-poverty schools to isolate NCLB effects. Perhaps surprisingly, we show positive trends in many work environment measures, job satisfaction, and commitment across the time period coinciding with the implementation of NCLB. We find, however, relatively modest evidence of an impact of NCLB accountability itself. There is some evidence that the law has negatively affected perceptions of teacher cooperation but positively affected feelings of classroom control and administrator support. We find little evidence that teacher job satisfaction or commitment has changed in response to NCLB.

News Coverage

Study: Negative Reputation of No Child Left Behind Undeserved
UT Dallas News Center, July 14, 2014


NCLB Act has done little to help kids in impoverished school districts, June 29, 2014

Study: No Child Left Behind May Benefit Teachers
State Impact: Indiana, June 11, 2014


Possible Redemption for No Child Left Behind?
The Atlantic, June 10, 2014

Turns Out No Child Left Behind May Have Actually Been Good For Teachers
Huffington Post, June 10, 2014

NCLB Not So Negative for Teachers, Study Says
Education Week (Inside School Research), June 10, 2014

Study: No Child did no real damage to teacher morale or commitment
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Get Schooled Blog), June 10, 2014

New study shows No Child Left Behind not so bad after all, June 10, 2014

Morning Education: Teachers Bothered By NCLB? Nah.
Politico, June 10, 2014 
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