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NCLB: Law, Regulations, Guidance Publications &
Policy Letters

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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 (NCLB) emphasizes accountability, parent involvement, highly-qualified teachers, and research-based teaching methods.

On this page are links to the NCLB statute, regulations, guidance publications by Title, policy letters, and other essential publications from the U. S. Department of Education.

Law and Regulations

No Child Left Behind, Table of Contents, U. S. Department of Education site.

No Child Left Behind Act, Public Law 107-110
. Signed into law on January 8, 2002. (Note: This is a large PDF file)

NCLB Regulations

New Regulation about assessment of children who have significant cognitive impairments (Federal Register, Volume 68, Number 236 Page 68697-68708 (December 9, 2003) Regulation in html l Regulation in pdf

Alternate Achievement Standards for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities Non-Regulatory Guidance - Non-regulatory guidance regarding alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Includes alternate assessments (section B), Individualized Education Program teams (section D), alignment (section E), the "one percent cap" (sections F and H), the exception process (section G), and reporting (section I) with clear explanations and examples. (August 2005) 

Guidance Publications

Title I

Impact of the New Title I Requirements on Charter Schools: Non-Regulatory Guidance- This 16 page publication answers questions about how changes to Title I will affect charter schools in several areas: accountability, public school choice, supplemental educational services, corrective action, and requirements for highly qualified teachers. (July, 2004)

LEA and School Improvement: Non-Regulatory Guidance. This 47-page publication answers questions about annual review of school progress, school improvement plans, corrective action, school restructuring; LEA review, improvement, and corrective action; includes chart illustrating school improvement process. (January 7, 2004)

Guidance for the Early Reading First Program - This 21 page document provides non-regulatory program guidance for the Early Reading First program. (Updated March 17, 2003)

Title I Paraprofessionals, Draft Non-Regulatory Guidance - This 14 page publication includes general information about paraprofessionals, answers questions about educational requirements for paraprofessionals, assessment, related issues, and funding. (revised March 1, 2004)

Parent Involvement, Title I, Part A - Non-Regulatory Guidance. This publication includes Frequently Asked Questions about parent involvement and parental notification policies. The publication also includes a glossary of NCLB definitions, a summary of Parental Notification Requirements, a list of research based resources for Community Involvement Programs, a sample Parental Involvement Policy, and a sample School-Parent Compact. (April 23, 2004)

Public School Choice, Draft Non-Regulatory Guidance - This 28 page publication highlights important aspects of the public school choice component of Title I and provides guidance on some provisions that may be useful in administering and implementing these requirements. States may rely on this guidance in administering these requirements. (revised Feb. 6, 2004)

Guidance for the Reading First Program - The final guidance for the Reading First program. The purpose of Reading First is to ensure that all children are proficient readers by the end of third grade. (April 2002)

Report Cards, Title I, Part A - This 23 page non-regulatory guidance publication answers frequently asked questions about state and school district (local educational agency) report cards. (September 17, 2003)

Serving Preschool Children Under Title I: Nonregulatory Guidance - This 37 page publication identifies components of quality preschool programs and addresses administrative issues in using Title I funds for preschool programs. Includes examples of instruction and learning in high quality Title I preschool programs so children have necessary skills when they enter Kindergarten.(March 4, 2004)

Standards and Assessments - This 44 page non-regulatory guidance publication is written to assist States, districts, and schools in understanding and implementing The No Child Left Behind Act in the area of standards and assessments. (March 10, 2003)

Standards and Assessments Peer Review Guidance: Information and Examples for Meeting Requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 - This 133 page publication describes evidence states must submit to demonstrate that they have met NCLB standards and assessment requirements; it is designed to help peer reviewers who will examine evidence submitted by states and advise the USDOE as to whether a state has met these requirements.
(April 28, 2004)

Supplemental Educational Services - This guidance publication about Supplemental Educational Services (additional academic instruction designed to increase the academic achievement of students in low-performing schools) describes tutoring, remediation and other educational interventions, provided these approaches are consistent with the content and instruction used by the local educational agency (LEA) and are aligned with the State's academic content standards. (July 13, 2005)

Title I Services to Eligible Private School Children - Non-Regulatory Guidance (October 17, 2003)

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Title II

Highly Qualified Teachers: Revised Title II Part A Non-Regulatory Guidance - Provides non-regulatory guidance for Title II programs about preparing, training, and recruiting high-quality teachers and principals; requires states to develop plans with annual measurable objectives to ensure that all teachers teaching in core academic subjects are highly qualified by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Describes new policies pertaining to teachers in rural districts, science teachers, and teachers of multiple subjects. (Rev. August 3, 2005)

Title III

Final Non-Regulatory Guidance on the Title III State Formula Grant Program, Standards, Assessments and Accountability. This 18 page nonregulatory guidance publication focuses on implementation of the Title III State Formula Grant Program.
Part I: Non-Regulatory Guidance on Implementation of Title III State Formula Grant Program

Part II: Standards, Assessments and Accountability - Final Draft of Non-Regulatory Guidance on Title III State Formula Grant Program (msword)

Title IV

21st Century Community Learning Centers - This 53 page non-regulatory guidance publication will help State Educational Agencies to develop selection criteria to ensure that local programs are high quality and tailored to address the needs of students and their families. States and local communities must identify and implement programs for which there is evidence, based on rigorous research and evaluation, that they can effectively help children to succeed in school. (February 2003)

Safe and Drug-Free School and Communities Act State Grants: Guidance for State and Local Implementation of Programs - This publication provides non-regulatory Draft Guidance for State and Local Implementation of Programs under Title IV, Part A, Subpart 1. (January 2, 2003)

Title V

Charter Schools Program - Title V - Part B - Non Regulatory Guidance - This 18 page publication answers questions about the general provisions of the Charter School Program; eligibility and use of funds; lottery recruitment and admissions; involvement of religious and community-based organizations; administrative and fiscal responsibilities. (July, 2004)

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Title VI

Guidance on the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) - This document provides guidance for the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP). The reauthorized ESEA contains three separate Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) initiatives that are designed to help rural districts that lack the personnel and resources to compete effectively for Federal competitive grants and that receive grant allocations in amounts that are too small to be effective in meeting their intended purposes. (June 2003)

Title VII

Education for Homeless Children and Youth - Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 - Non-Regulatory Guidance - This 42 page publication addresses several issues: whether children awaiting foster care placement are eligible for McKinney-Vento services; whether children displaced from their homes by a disaster are eligible for McKinney-Vento services; and whether a school district must provide transportation services to homeless children attending preschool. (July 2004)

Title IX

Access to High School Students and Information on Students by Military Recruiters - This 4 page publication describes two pieces of legislation that require local educational agencies (LEAs) that receive assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to give military recruiters the same access to secondary school students as they provide to postsecondary institutions or to prospective employers. (October 9, 2002)

Unsafe School Choice Option, Non-Regulatory Guidance - NCLB requires states that receive funds establish and implement statewide policies requiring that students who attend a persistently dangerous public school, or students who are victims of a violent criminal offense while in or on the grounds of a public school, are allowed to attend a safe public school. This document provides guidance on provisions that may be useful in administering these requirements. (May, 2004)

Policy Letters

New Policy for Calculating Participation Rates Under No Child Left Behind. States will be able to average participation rates over a three-year period; students who are unable to take the test during the testing and make-up windows because of a unique, significant medical emergency will not count against the school’s participation rate. (March 29, 2004)

Policy Letters from U. S. Department of Education - More than 50 policy letters that provide guidance to state departments of education (SEAs), school districts (LEAs), federal program directors, and others about implementing No Child Left Behind.

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Essential Publications from U. S. Department of Education

No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference. This comprehensive publication outlines what is new in the No Child Left Behind Act for each program supported by the ESEA of 1965 and other statutes; describes how the Act's four guiding principles (accountability, flexibility and local control, parental choice, and research-based instruction) work in many of these programs. (181 pages)

No Child Left Behind - A Parent's Guide. This 44 page publication provides an overview of NCLB and answers questions about accountability, testing, reading, research based instruction, teacher quality, safe schools, public school choice, supplemental educational services, and charter schools. Summarizes provisions in the law, answers questions about the law, explains what the law does for parents, explains where to find additional resources.

No Child Left Behind: Toolkit for Teachers. This 60 page publication answers questions that teachers have about NCLB; includes questions about the "highly qualified teacher" provisions, accountability, testing, reading, scientifically based research, English language learners, Reading First grants, and safe schools.

Supplementary Education Services in Action: A Toolkit for Parents and Community Leaders - Provides parents and community leaders with information, tips, and tools to help families understand and use SES options - how to sign up, choose a provider, questions and answers, worksheets. Also available in pdf.

Toolkit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations to Provide Extra Academic Help
(Supplemental Educational Services)
- This 27 page publication answers questions about how to become a supplemental services provider; rules of participation, eligibility for services, how organizations become eligible, how states identify and approve supplemental services providers, keys to preparing applications and delivering high-quality services, qualifications of instructional staff, communication between providers, parents and schools, and more.

Reports from the Government Accounting Office (GAO)

Title I: Characteristics of Tests Will Influence Expenses; Information Sharing May Help States Realize Efficiencies (May 8, 2003) search on report number, GAO-03-389

A Joint Audit Report on the Status of State Student Assessment Systems and the Quality of Title I School Accountability Data, by U. S. General Accounting Office, U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General. State Auditor's Office State of Texas, Department of the Auditor General Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia Office of Controller, August 2002, SAO Report No. 02-064.

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 1-892320-12-6) by Peter W. D. Wright, Pamela Darr Wright and Suzanne Whitney Heath includes:

  • Full text of the No Child Left Behind Act
  • Analysis, Interpretation & Commentary
  • Advocacy Strategies, Tips & Sample Letters
  • No Child Left Behind CD-ROM of Publications & Resources

Learn what the law says about -

  • Scientifically Based Reading Instruction
  • Proficiency Testing in Reading, Math, Science
  • Free Tutoring, Summer School, After-School Programs
  • Transfers from Failing Schools and School Choice
  • New Qualifications for Teachers and Paraprofessionals
  • Bonus Pay, Stipends, Scholarships for Teachers and Principals
  • Teacher Liability Protection

Bonus! The Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind CD-ROM includes the full text of the NCLB statute with overviews and commentary, NCLB regulations, dozens of guidance publications from the U. S. Department of Education and other references and resources. (contents of CD)

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Last updated: 02/23/10

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