No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Requirements for Schools
Overview
The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 aims to bring all students up to the proficient level on state tests by the 2013-2014 school year, and to hold states and schools more accountable for results. NCLB requires all districts and schools receiving Title I funds to meet state "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) goals for their total student populations and for specified demographic subgroups, including major ethnic/racial groups, economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficient (LEP) students, and students with disabilities. If these schools fail to meet AYP goals for two or more years, they are classified as schools "in need of improvement" and face consequences as outlined below.

NCLB requires states to align tests with state academic standards and begin testing students on an annual basis in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and at least once during grades 10 through 12 by the 2005-2006 school year. In addition, it requires the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics tests to be administered to a sample of fourth and eighth graders in each state every other year in order to make cross-state comparisons. NCLB also mandates school districts to hire teachers designated as "highly qualified" to teach core academic subjects in Title I programs. Finally, states must issue annual report cards for schools and districts.
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Title I Schools
Schools where at least 35 percent of the children in the school attendance area are from low-income families or at least 35 percent of the enrolled students are from low-income families are eligible to receive federal Title I funds. The proportion of low-income families is most frequently measured by the percent of students eligible to receive free and reduced-price lunch. Title I funds are to be used for programs designed to improve the academic achievement of children from low-income homes. Over half of all public schools receive funding under Title I.

No Child Left Behind requires all districts and schools receiving Title I funds to meet state "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) goals for their total student populations and for specified demographic subgroups. If a school receiving federal Title I funding fails to meet their AYP target for two or more consecutive years, the school is designated "in need of improvement" and faces consequences as outlined below.

Schools that do not receive federal Title I funds are considered non-Title I schools. The federal government does not require states to give non-Title I schools an improvement status, though some states may choose to do so. If your school is not a Title I school and has not made AYP for two or more consecutive years, check with your local school district to see what services are available.
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Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

No Child Left Behind requires states to measure "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) for schools receiving Title I funds with the goal of all students reaching the proficient level on reading/language arts and mathematics tests by the 2013-2014 school year. States must define minimum levels of improvement as measured by standardized tests chosen by the state. AYP targets must be set for overall achievement and for subgroups of students, including major ethnic/racial groups, economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficient (LEP) students and students with disabilities. If a school receiving Title I funding fails to meet its AYP target for two or more consecutive years, the school is designated "in need of improvement" and faces specific consequences as outlined below.
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Schools "In Need of Improvement"

A Title I school that fails to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) as defined by the state for two consecutive years is designated "in need of improvement, Year 1" and receives specific consequences outlined in the table below. For each subsequent year that a school fails to meet its AYP goals, the school's "in need of improvement" status advances and the school faces additional consequences. A school is no longer considered "in need of improvement" when it meets AYP for two consecutive years.

This list shows the relationship between AYP and the year of improvement status for a school:

  • Failed to make AYP for two consecutive years = Year 1
  • Failed to make AYP for three consecutive years = Year 2
  • Failed to make AYP for four consecutive years = Year 3
  • Failed to make AYP for five consecutive years = Year 4
  • Failed to make AYP for six consecutive years = Year 5

Note: Some state Departments of Education do not clearly identify the exact year of improvement for their schools, but instead only indicate which schools are "in need of improvement." If you are uncertain about the year of improvement status or possible consequences for your child's school, contact your school principal.
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Consequences for Schools "In Need of Improvement"

The following table shows the consequences for a school "in need of improvement" as defined by No Child Left Behind.

  In need of improvement (year)
Consequence 1 2 3 4 5
School transfer options X X X X X
Supplemental services   X X X X
Corrective action     X X X
Restructuring (planning)       X X
Restructuring (implementation)         X

After year 5, if a school fails to make AYP in subsequent years it continues to be classified "in need of improvement" and must offer school transfer options and supplemental services as defined below.
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School Transfer Options

When a Title I school fails to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals for two or more consecutive years, parents of children in that school have the choice to transfer their children to schools which are (1) not identified as "in need of improvement" and (2) not identified by the state as persistently dangerous schools. However, if all public schools served by the district are classified as schools "in need of improvement," the district should try to establish a cooperative agreement with other districts in order to provide school choice. Regardless of whether all schools in a district are classified as "in need of improvement," districts may establish cooperative agreements with one another. The school district must pay for, or provide, transportation to the new school. Public school choice must be provided to eligible students unless prohibited by state law; a district cannot deny school choice to eligible students due to lack of capacity. Finally, the law requires that priority in school choice be given to low-achieving children from low-income families.

To learn more about school transfer options and school choice, check this publication from the U.S. Department of Education:
Innovations in Education: Creating Strong District School Choice Programs
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Supplemental Services

When a Title I school fails to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals for three or more consecutive years, students are eligible for state-approved supplemental educational services, which include tutoring or other extra education services that provide academic aid to students. Parents can choose from a list of supplemental service providers (SSPs), which are generally available on state Department of Education Web sites.

In addition to these services, parents continue to have school transfer options as defined above.

To learn more about supplemental services and what questions to ask of supplemental service providers, check Tutorsforkids.org.
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Corrective Action

When a Title I school fails to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals for four consecutive years, the district must implement at least one of the following corrective actions: replace school staff; implement new curriculum; decrease the authority of school-level administration; appoint outside experts to advise the school; extend the school year or school day; and/or restructure the internal organization of the school.

The district must continue to provide school transfer options and supplemental services as defined above.
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Restructuring (Planning)

When a Title I school fails to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals for five consecutive years, the district must prepare a plan to restructure the school. The restructuring plan must include one of the following alternative governance arrangements: reopen the school as a public charter school; replace all or most of the school staff, including the principal; enter into a contract to have an outside entity operate the school; arrange for the state to take over operation of the school; or any other major restructuring of the school's governance arrangement.

The district must continue to provide school transfer options, supplemental services, and corrective actions as defined above.
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Restructuring (Implementation)

When a Title I school fails to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals for six consecutive years, the district must implement the plan developed in the previous year to restructure the school.

The school transfer options, supplemental services, and other corrective actions from the previous years continue as defined above.
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A Note About the Data

GreatSchools.org makes every effort to publish the most recently available NCLB data provided by the state Department of Education. In order to meet federal guidelines for publishing this data, some states release preliminary data. Preliminary data is subject to change according to guidelines set by each state. If you have concerns about your school's NCLB results, check with your principal for the most up-to-date information.
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Additional Resources

Check out the following articles to find more information about NCLB requirements for schools:

NCLB: What No Child Left Behind Means for Your Child

No Child Left Behind: A Parents Guide (PDF), from the U.S. Department of Education.
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