This practitioner research longitudinal study examines the effects of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and the Race To The Top (RTTT) initiative on a high performing middle school in Massachusetts between 2003 and 2013. Utilizing a theoretical framework that combines Cochran-Smith and Lytles (2009) "inquiry as stance" and Ball's concept of (1990b) "policy cycles," the study analyzes the programmatic and structural changes enacted in response to NCLB, RTTT and their effects on special education and low income students, their teachers, parents, and the principal. The study's findings show that federal mandates and related state regulations placed unrealistic, unfair and unreasonable demands on students, teachers and the school. Staff often felt as if we were riding on a rollercoaster. Massachusetts' rating of "High" and "Very High" performance on the state test contrasted with the NCLB school report cards that labeled the school as in need of "improvement," "corrective action," and eventually "restructuring" because of the failure of special education or low income students to meet constantly rising targets. NCLB's and RTTT's requirements caused the school to prioritize courses providing remediation in tested subjects--English language arts and mathematics--reducing the availability of related arts classes and thereby narrowing the curriculum. The school's obsessive focus on the annual state tests produced an atmosphere of anxiety for all stakeholders. Unwanted changes in the school culture eventually generated a schoolwide movement to resist the obsession with testing, reduce anxiety and expand interdisciplinary learning. The study concludes with recommendations for further research of the effects of federal mandates on "good" schools across the US. It recommends that policymakers recognize that "one size fits all" school reform is detrimental to public schools and calls for the recognition of local knowledge in the making of policy. A further recommendation encourages school leaders to study their own practice, becoming practitioner researchers for the benefit of their schools.