Analysis of Public Law 94-142 and No Child Left Behind Law

The Public Law 94-142

Public Law 94-142 (P.L. 94-142) was a response to a congressional concern over children with disabilities’ education. The charter rescued a considerable number of children with disabilities previously excluded from the American educational system. The rule also addressed the fate of children with limited access to the education system. These issues provided the framework that shaped the education of children with disabilities in America.

The law, therefore, guaranteed a free quality public education to every learner with a disability. The legislation ensured that the stakeholders identified all children with disabilities, afforded special education and other special related services to match their unique needs. The charter assured the rights of both children with special needs, and their parents were protected.

Over time, the P.L. 94-142 has undergone legislative amendments to solve challenges in educating disabled children. Since its establishment in 1975, Congress has passed versions to the jurisprudence such as the Education for the Handicapped Act (EHA; P.L. 99-457) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) between 1975 and 2000 (Sharp, 2017). The new regulations increased the national concern for the young kids with disabilities and their families, unlike the P.L. 94-142.

The 1986 amendments mandated the states to provide services and programs to children with disabilities right from birth, while P.L. 94-142 only ordered for the services and programs for children between ages 3 and 21 (Sharp, 2017). The 1986 amendment was very beneficial to learners with disabilities as it has early interventions and preschool programs for toddlers, infants, and preschool kids with special needs. The plans trained and prepared young children with disabilities to meet the social and academic challenges that lie ahead of them later in life. Also, the IDEA provided culturally relevant instruction and curriculum that suited diverse learners in an all-inclusive environment.

The No Child Left Behind Law

The No Child Left Behind Law (NCLB), which was signed into practice in 2002, aimed at updating the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The law grew out of a concern that the American education system had ceased to be internationally competitive (VanGronigen & Meyers, 2019). The disadvantaged groups such as the minority, the poor children, students in special education, and English-language learners were the primary beneficiaries, whose achievements were significantly below those of their peers (VanGronigen & Meyers, 2019). Consequently, the law held the federal government responsible for ensuring better student outcomes for disadvantaged students by facilitating the acquisition of proper tools to enhance their education.

The law also required teachers to be well qualified for their work. It stipulates that each teacher must have a bachelor’s degree in their specialization subjects and be state-certified. The law ensured even distribution of qualified teachers in wealthier and poor schools. On the positive side, the law leads to learners’ inclusion with learning differences (VanGronigen & Meyers, 2019). The legislation provided disadvantaged groups equal educational opportunities with their peers. The law also brought onboard learners who were shut out of state tests due to their thinking and learning differences. Furthermore, individuals from poor backgrounds had their futures improved in that schools were pushed to support, help and pay more attention to the struggling students.

On the contrary, as VanGronigen and Meyers (2019) observe, the NCLB became too tests oriented by paying keen focus only on the tested learners. This locked out students from anything else that they may have needed to pursue. Many critics affiliated exam malpractices to the NCLB, as they argued that it was only examinations oriented, hence piling pressure on the educators and teachers to perform. Regardless of the controversy, many people supported some parts of the NCLB-especially the one that advocates for highly qualified teachers


Sharp, N. (2017).Inclusion in the early childhood classroom: What should this look like? Northwestern College, Orange City, IA.

VanGronigen, B. A., & Meyers, C. V. (2019). How state education agencies are administering school turnaround efforts: 15 years after No Child Left Behind. Educational Policy, 33(3), 423-452.

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