Several members of my extended family are teachers.
To a person, they have nothing good to say about No Child Left Behind.
The crux of the issue is that NCLB collectivized the responsibility to learn. It is no longer solely the student's responsibility. Under NCLB the community failed when a student fails.
That sounds wonderful from a 40,000 foot fly-over level but fails when viewed from a Game Theory perspective.
The student quickly learns that he does not need to succeed. He can swoon and drop into the fetal position. Somebody, some collective, will grab the loop sewn into the back of his shirt and drag him into the endzone.
Some kids get test anxiety? No problem. We will give the kid three attempts to pass the test.
The kid feels bad because he was labeled? No problem. We will give EVERY student three chances to pass a test or write a paper.
Guess what, you just tripled the teacher's work-load because EVERY student will take the test or write the paper three times.
There might be some professional satisfaction if the quality between the first and the third effort increased but that is not the norm. The teacher lavishes attention on the paper and it comes back with the same mistakes. Mistakes, incidentally, that are readily flagged by MS Word grammar checker functions.
The problem is not that the students are stupid. They are optimizing their behavior to the existing effort/reward structure. If not explicitly then they are conforming to the culture that evolved during the NCLB years.
Once a kid hits twelve, he should be signed up with an apprenticeship program with the nastiest ones being filled with the youngest students who take a dive.
Bomb-out as a twelve-year-old, apprentice with the guy who pumps septic tanks.
Bomb-out as a fourteen-year-old, apprentice with cement workers carrying hods and blocks up the scaffolding.
They didn't fail. They made early career choice decisions.