What does the No Child Left Behind Act require quizlet?

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed in 2001 under President George W. Bush. NCLB significantly increased accountability standards for schools, with the goal of closing achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Some of the key requirements of NCLB include:

Standardized Testing

NCLB required states to develop and implement standardized testing to track student proficiency in reading and math in grades 3-8, and again in high school. These statewide tests were intended to provide data to identify achievement gaps between groups of students, and identify underperforming schools in need of improvement.

Adequate Yearly Progress

The law required states to set targets for minimum levels of improvement, called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). All public schools were required to meet AYP toward the goal of all students achieving proficiency in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year. Schools that did not meet AYP targets for two or more consecutive years were identified as needing improvement.


Schools that did not meet AYP targets were subject to consequences such as having to offer supplemental educational services, allowing students the choice to transfer schools, changing curriculum, or undergoing restructuring. This increased accountability was intended to motivate schools to improve achievement, especially for disadvantaged groups.

Highly Qualified Teachers

NCLB mandated that only highly qualified teachers, defined as having full certification and demonstrated competence in subject knowledge and teaching skills, could be employed in schools receiving federal funding. This was intended to improve teacher quality which impacts student achievement.

Funding Changes

NCLB significantly increased federal funding for education, but tied distribution of funds to compliance with the law’s requirements. Schools had to show adequate yearly progress and annual state testing to qualify for funding.

NCLB faced a variety of criticisms over the years, leading to changes under the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. However, the focus on standardized testing, accountability, and closing achievement gaps remains central to federal education policy.

Here is a table summarizing some key requirements of NCLB:

Requirement Description
Standardized Testing Annual statewide standardized tests in reading and math for grades 3-8 and once in high school
Adequate Yearly Progress State-set targets for improvement on tests scores for all groups of students to reach proficiency by 2013-2014
Accountability Consequences for schools not meeting AYP targets for 2+ years such as supplemental services, choice to transfer, restructuring
Highly Qualified Teachers All teachers must be fully certified and demonstrate competence in subjects taught
Funding Changes Increased federal education funding tied to compliance with NCLB requirements

Standardized Testing

One of the most well-known requirements of NCLB was implementing statewide standardized testing in reading and math for grades 3-8, plus once again in high school. This annual testing was intended to track the achievement and progress of all students against common benchmarks and identify gaps in proficiency between groups of students. Specifically, NCLB required testing in the following subjects and grades:

  • Reading and math tests annually for grades 3-8
  • Science tests given at least once in elementary, middle, and high school
  • Math and reading tests once in high school

Results were required to be reported separately for all major racial/ethnic groups, English learners, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students. This disaggregated data made it possible to identify schools where particular groups of students were struggling, even if overall scores seemed acceptable. The goal was to ensure all students were making adequate progress toward proficiency.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

In addition to administering standardized tests, states had to set targets for performance called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This defined the minimum improvement schools needed to see each year in order to ensure all students would reach proficiency in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year.

AYP targets measured the percentage of students scoring proficient on the state tests. The targets steadily rose until reaching 100% proficiency. Schools had to meet AYP requirements not only for students overall, but also for subgroups including:

  • Major racial/ethnic groups
  • Economically disadvantaged students
  • Students with disabilities
  • English language learners

This helped ensure schools were addressing achievement gaps and not just meeting AYP by making gains among some groups of students. Schools that did not meet AYP for two or more consecutive years were identified as needing improvement.


One major focus of NCLB was to improve accountability by linking performance to consequences. Schools not making AYP for two years in a row were labeled as “in need of improvement” and faced escalating interventions including:

  • Year 1: No action required besides notifying parents of school status.
  • Year 2: School must offer students transfer to another public school in district and supplemental educational services like tutoring.
  • Year 3: Continue transfer option and supplemental services. District must also take corrective actions such as curriculum change, staffing changes, or extending school day/year.
  • Year 4: Continue prior interventions. School must restructure internal organization of school.
  • Year 5: Continue prior interventions. School must implement alternative governance system such as state takeover, conversion to charter school, or significant staff restructuring.

This system of rewards and consequences was intended to give schools strong top-down motivation to improve achievement, especially for struggling groups of students.

Highly Qualified Teachers

NCLB included provisions intended to strengthen the quality of classroom instruction, which is a major driver of student achievement. The law mandated schools ensure all core academic subject teachers must be “highly qualified.” This meant teachers had to have:

  • Full state certification for the grade level/subject taught
  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Demonstrated subject-matter competency

Existing teachers were given until the end of the 2005-2006 school year to meet these standards. Newly hired teachers had to be highly qualified immediately. This provision applied to nearly all public school teachers. Higher standards for teacher quality were intended to translate into improved student outcomes.

Funding Changes

NCLB represented a major increase in federal funding for education. From 2002 to 2007, federal spending on K-12 education increased from $17.4 billion to $25 billion. However, the money was tied to compliance with NCLB’s requirements and incentives. Schools had to demonstrate adequate yearly progress on state tests and implement NCLB reforms to qualify for funding.

Title I funding for disadvantaged schools was one major area that saw large increases. From 2002 to 2007, Title I allocations rose from $10.4 billion to $12.7 billion. This provided resources for interventions in high-poverty schools. But the prescriptive nature of funding and consequences under NCLB also spurred complaints from states and districts about federal overreach.

Criticisms of No Child Left Behind

While NCLB had bipartisan political support and good intentions, over time it faced growing criticism leading up to its replacement by the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. Some major areas of criticism included:

  • Unrealistic expectations: The 100% proficiency goal by 2013-2014 was criticized as unrealistic. Less than 40% of schools met this goal by 2014.
  • Too much testing: The law was seen as overly reliant on frequent standardized testing. Some estimated students took 10-20 standardized tests per year on average.
  • One-size-fits-all approach: The standardized AYP benchmarks and interventions did not account for differences between schools, districts, and states.
  • Narrowing curriculum: Critics argued the focus on math and reading came at the expense of other subjects.
  • Teaching to the test: Teachers were accused of focusing instruction narrowly on test-taking skills versus deeper learning.
  • Federal overreach: Many argued education policy decisions should be left to states and local districts.

In 2015, NCLB was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This new law rolled back some federal accountability provisions. However, yearly testing and reporting requirements remained intact as did the focus on improving outcomes for disadvantaged students and closing achievement gaps between groups.


The No Child Left Behind Act brought needed attention to achievement gaps and introduced greater accountability to schools through standardized testing, AYP, teacher quality reforms, and incentives. However, shortcomings in its rigid approach opened the door for ESSA’s more flexible policies that maintained NCLB’s commitment to equitable access to quality education for all students.

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