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No Child Left Behind FAQs


Note: Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as No Child Left Behind. The new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.


No Child Left Behind includes many new responsibilities and requirements for states, school districts, and schools. The law also includes new rights and responsibilities for children who attend public schools that receive Title I funds and their parents.

These "Frequently Asked Questions" from the No Child Left Behind website at www.nclb.gov will answer many of your questions about the following topics:


1. How do I know how my child is doing?
2. When will the states have to follow this new law?
3. My child has special needs. How does this bill help my child?
4. What are the requirements of the NCLB Act for states and school districts to publish "report cards" on school performance?
5. How can I see these school report cards?
6. Will these tests measure the progress of the schools?
7. How will measuring "adequate yearly progress" help improve my school?
8. What if a school fails to improve?
9. Are there any rewards for schools or teachers that do well?

1. How do I know how my child is doing?

No Child Left Behind gives parents new tools to help their children learn and to help improve America's schools. No Child Left Behind is designed to highlight success and shine a light on failure. It will give you objective data. Every state will test students in grades three through eight on what they know in math and reading. And by 2007, students will be tested in science, too. Many parents have children who are getting straight A's, but find out only later that their child is not prepared for college. That's why No Child Left Behind seeks to give parents objective data about how their children are doing.

2. When will the states have to follow this new law?

The new law took effect in the Fall of 2002. That's why it is critical that parents and educators are informed about the new reforms and improvements brought about by No Child Left Behind.

3. My child has special needs. How does this bill help my child?

No Child Left Behind gives districts new flexibility and freedom with Federal funds so children with disabilities can be better served. President Bush and the Department of Education will work with Congress to make sure reform starts with getting children help, focusing on results, and reducing the regulations that hinder outreach to these children.

4. What are the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act for states and school districts to publish "report cards" on school performance?

Starting with the 2002-2003 school year, state test results will be reported to the public in order to hold schools accountable for improving the academic achievement of each and every one of their students. The following information will be on the report card:

· student academic achievement on statewide tests disaggregated by subgroup;
· a comparison of students at basic, proficient, and advanced levels of academic achievement (these levels are determined by your state);
· high school graduation rates (how many students drop out of school);
· the number and names of schools identified for improvement;
· the professional qualifications of teachers; and
· the percentages of students not tested

School districts must prepare annual reports for parents and the public on the academic achievement of all schools combined and of each individual school. The school district report cards will include the same information in the state report card. In the case of an individual school, the report card will include whether it has been identified for school improvement and how its students performed on the state test compared to the school district and state as a whole.

5. How can I see these school report cards?

In addition to student report cards, schools will report overall results for student learning. These campus report cards must be disseminated widely through public means, which could be posted on the Internet, distributed to the media, or distributed through public agencies.

6. Will these tests measure the progress of the schools?

Yes. No Child Left Behind received bipartisan support of both Democrats and Republicans because it demands results from every school for the benefit of every child. Every year, Americans will be able to find out whether their school is improving - or to put it another way: whether it is making adequate yearly progress.

7. How will measuring "adequate yearly progress" help improve my school?

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is an individual state's measure of yearly progress toward achieving state academic standards. It sets the minimum level of improvement that states, school districts, and schools must achieve each year. No Child Left Behind raises the bar of expectations for all students - especially those ethnic groups and those disadvantaged students who are falling farther and farther behind and who are most in danger of being left behind.

It works like this: States start by defining adequate yearly progress - the measurements of academic improvement a school must achieve to ensure that, at the end of 12 years, every student graduating will have a mastery of the basics.

Each state chooses where to set the initial academic achievement bar based on the lowest-achieving demographic group or based on the lowest-achieving schools in the state, whichever is higher. Once the initial bar is established, the state is required to "raise the bar" gradually to reach 100 percent proficiency at the end of 12 years. The initial bar must be raised after two years and subsequent thresholds must be raised at least once every three years.

This guarantees every school will be striving to improve.

8. What if a school fails to improve?

Parents will get options for their children and districts will have ways to get children extra help. Schools that have not made state-defined adequate yearly progress for two consecutive school years will be identified as needing school improvement before the beginning of the next school year.

Immediately after a school is found to be in need of improvement, officials will receive help and technical assistance. These schools will develop a two-year plan to turn around the school. Every student in the school will be given the option to transfer to a better public school in the district.

If the school does not make adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years, the school remains in school improvement and the district must continue to offer public school choice to all students. The school must also provide supplemental educational services to disadvantaged children. Parents can chose the services their child needs from a list of approved providers.

If the school fails to make adequate yearly progress for four consecutive years, the district must implement certain corrective actions to improve the school, such as replacing certain staff or fully implementing a new curriculum, as well as continuing to offer public school choice and pay for supplemental services.

If a school fails to make adequate yearly progress for five consecutive years, it will be identified for restructuring. First, it would have to develop a plan and make the necessary arrangements to implement significant alternative governance actions, state takeover, the hiring of a private management contractor, converting to a charter school, or significant staff restructuring.

During this entire time of getting the school help, parents and children will get public school choice and supplemental services, so they won't be trapped in schools consistently identified as in need of improvement and risk being academically left behind.

9. Are there any rewards for schools or teachers that do well?

The law authorizes state academic achievement awards to schools that close achievement gaps between groups of students or exceed academic achievement goals. States may use Federal funds to financially reward teachers in schools that receive academic achievement awards. In addition, states may designate schools that make the greatest achievement gains as "Distinguished Schools."

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