Schools Cutting Recess Due to No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

Schools Cutting Recess Due to No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
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Why are we Cutting Recess?

When I was in elementary school, recess was the pinnacle of excitement for the day. I remember enjoying how my friends and I were able to run and play as if we were not in a structured school environment. We had roughly forty-five minutes to play before we resumed our school work. I know I needed that time. I needed to run and get out all of my pent-up energy. Currently, I teach preschool and I watch how my students run with enjoyment when we have our thirty-minute play time twice a day. I open the gate to the playground and they yell and run with no reservations. They need it. I need it! Yet, this time is being threatened.

In 2001 the controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed by President George W. Bush. Long explanation short, NCLB requires schools to test their students in math and reading each year in order to determine if each child shows adequate yearly progress (AYP). You can read all about No Child Left Behind from a White House posting dated May 2001.

The problem? Schools became so overwhelmed with the demands of NCLB that they were determined to help children increase test scores year after year. Because of this fact, schools cut recess and other recreational activities in order to spend more time focused on math and reading.

In 2012, the White House published another posting about how states can move away from NLCB with state waivers and other challenges. This was written as the first 10 states received their waivers, and interestingly the White House writer misspelled “receive” by switching the i and the e right in the top paragraph. Trending away from NCLB won’t help if White House writers can’t spell–but the post is well worth your attention.

Over the past four years, additional states have received waivers, but not enough has been done to move away from this educational act that interfered with educational positives for so many of our students. With no recess and pay-for-play sports, many students today are diagnosed with obesity, another problem altogether.

Do not get me wrong, I completely support educational advancement. I just do not think that cutting recess to make more time for studying

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math and reading is the right way to go. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents need at least one hour of physical activity per day. This may sound like a lot, but you must understand that their exercise is unlike adults. Running, playing soccer and jumping rope are all ways of promoting physical activity. – Center for Disease Control.

There have been more than several conversations about how to “fix” NCLB, yet not enough has been done. We continue to put the pressure on school officials and teachers. I do believe something will change eventually but, until then, let your child play! Let him or her run out your back door with no reservations. Put restrictions on computer time spent indoors. Building forts in the woods and playing kickball in the back yard have been childhood favorites for years. I am fighting to keep that alive…please fight with me!


  • Teacher opinion, unless otherwise noted.