In 2001 congress passed the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) education bill. The bill was designed to hold schools more accountable and did so largely by increasing the focus on improving standardized test scores. With the ultimate “stick and carrot” of the program being money in the form of federal funds (isn’t it always), schools had a high incentive to do whatever they could to boost those test scores.
From a practical point of view, the initial reaction to the bill was to spend more time “teaching to the test” in the classroom. Many educators and parents resisted, claiming success in education and life did not revolve around test scores but in the end money won out, as it usually does. For 14 years NCLB created an educational environment where normal childhood development fell victim to the drive for better test scores. One of the casualties of this law was school recess. Recess time was cut, and in some cases eliminated, to make more room for a few more minutes of study.
What makes sense on paper often does not always work in real life and such was the case for NCLB. Without going into all the research, the end result of the law was that from 2006 to 2014, College entrance exam scores fell across almost all demographics. Having failed its purpose, NCLB was replaced in 2015.
In recent news, several states are doing an about face and are advancing legislation requiring schools to provide elementary students with recess time. Specifically, recess is to be unstructured and separate from PE classes or lunch breaks. It is a time when kids are simply free to be kids. Numerous studies of the past 15 years have shown that kids actually do better in schoolwork if they are given occasional breaks to play.
I have worked with many investors who seem to have the impression that the more they agonize and worry over their portfolios, the more money they are going to make. Like the writers of NCLB, they have lost some of the balance in their lives. I often tell these people to turn off the TV, close the computer, take a cruise or just go golfing. I have not done any scientific studies but I have worked with enough people to be very confident in my opinion that there is no correlation between investing success, and spending an excessive amount of time worrying about it. We all need a real break once in a while.
Recess has been shown to play a critical role in a students’ success at school. It makes sense that taking regular breaks from your financial worries as an adult would be equally important, and will give you a clearer perspective when you return. Investors can learn a lot from the lessons of NCLB, and families and marriages will likely benefit too from a regular and unstructured financial “recess.” However, sitting on a beach while checking stock prices on your IPhone does not count.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 375 E Riverside Dr, St. George, UT 84790
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