The no child left behind act: Have federal funds been left behind?

William Duncombe, Anna Lukemeyer, John Yinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) imposes new requirements on state education systems and provides additional education funding. This article estimates education cost functions, predicts the spending required to support NCLB standards, and compares this spending with the funding available through NCLB. This analysis is conducted for Kansas and Missouri, which have similar education environments but very different standards. We find that new federal funding is sufficient to support very low standards for student performance, but cannot come close to funding high standards without implausibly large increases in school-district efficiency. Because of the limited federal funding and the severe penalties in NCLB when a school does not meet its state's standards, states have a strong incentive to keep their standards low. NCLB needs to be reformed so that it will encourage high standards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-407
Number of pages27
JournalPublic Finance Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Accountability
  • Costs
  • Education finance
  • Federal aid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Administration


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