Questions & Answers about No Child Left Behind
What is The No Child Left Behind Act?
In January 2002, President Bush signed the law known as "The No Child Left Behind Act". NCLB represents the most sweeping changes in federal law regarding public schools in nearly 40 years.
What are the goals of the law?
NCLB includes significant new accountability measures for all public schools. It is based on the ambitious goal that ALL children will be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Missouri has developed, annual tests in reading and math for grades 3-8 to measure students' academic progress. The law also requires that all children in public schools be taught by highly qualified teachers. NCLB also calls for improving communication with parents and making all schools safer for students.
Does NCLB apply to all schools?
Yes. A few of the provisions of NCLB only apply to schools that receive Title I funds. Nearly 60 percent (1,320) of Missouri's 2,300 public schools are Title 1 schools. NCLB, however, specifically requires each state to have a "single system of accountability," with uniform standards for all students in all public schools.
Will NCLB override state standards?
No. The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the state's accreditation system for school districts. Through the MSIP standards (first adopted in 1990), the State Board of Education has already established school-improvement policies similar to those included in NCLB. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) intends to incorporate the requirements of NCLB into the accreditation process, to the degree possible, so there will be one set of rules for Missouri school districts.
What is "adequate yearly progress" (AYP)?
This is one of the key elements of the new law and probably the most complicated. To achieve the goal of all children being "proficient" (as defined differently by each state) by 2014, all public schools and districts must make satisfactory improvement each year toward that goal. Based on criteria included in NCLB, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has established specific annual targets for AYP in communication arts and math. (Note: NCLB refers to tests in "reading/language arts and math." At least for now, Missouri is using scores from the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) communication arts and math exams).
In 2006, DESE added additional indicators to the AYP report and criteria. These indicators related to attendance and graduation rates. Attendance rates (equal or greater to 93 percent) are used at the elementary and middle school levels. Graduation rates (equal or greater to 85 percent) are used at the high school level.
What are the consequences of not achieving AYP?
NCLB spells out an array of consequences for schools and districts that fail to achieve adequate yearly progress. Any school that fails to achieve AYP for two consecutive years will be identified by the state as "needing improvement. " Initially, a school that does not make AYP for two consecutive years must offer students the opportunity to transfer to another school within the district. After a third year, schools must offer supplemental services (such as tutoring) for students. Schools that do not show adequate progress after five years may be forced to take tough corrective action, such as replacing school personnel or extending the school year. These penalties do not apply to schools that do not receive Title 1 federal funds.
What student groups are accountable for AYP?
Each school and district, including charter schools, will be assessed to determine if it has achieved AYP in communication arts and math. In addition, each of the following student groups will be monitored for AYP, unless there are 30 or fewer students in the group:
Level Not Determined (LND)
- All students
- Asian/Pacific Islander
- American Indian
- Students receiving Free/Reduced lunch
- Students receiving an Individualized Education Program (Special education)
- Students with Limited English Proficiency
Schools must make sure that at least 95 percent of the students in every group are included in the MAP testing. If the 95 percent threshold is not met, that group cannot meet AYP, regardless of the group's overall scores. Missouri uses the term "Level Not Determined" (LND) to describe students who did not take the appropriate MAP tests or who did not make a valid attempt to complete a test. Thus, if any student group's "LND" number exceeds 5 percent, that group will not meet AYP.How will AYP be incorporated into state standards?
In the fall of each year, every Missouri school district receives an "Annual Performance Report" (APR) from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The APR tells the school district how it did during the previous year on the 12 performance indicators that are now used in the accreditation system. These indicators include MAP scores and other measures such as attendance, dropout rate, ACT scores, etc.
DESE added AYP as the 13th performance indicator. Under this approach, districts are able to earn points toward their overall accreditation rating - based on their AYP scores for total populations and subgroups.If a school district has been recognized for outstanding performance, can it also fail to achieve AYP?
Yes. This is likely to be one of the most disconcerting aspects of the new federal law for teachers, parents and students. Through the MSIP process, the state accredits the school district as a whole. Individual buildings are evaluated according to the MSIP standards, but they do not receive a separate accreditation rating.
While school districts will be accountable for making adequate yearly progress, the focus of NCLB is on individual buildings. The standards of the federal law are extremely high in that every subgroup of students must meet the specified AYP standard.
Because of the different criteria used in the state's accreditation system and those required under NCLB, it is quite likely that many school districts will have at least some buildings that fail to meet AYP standards with certain groups of students.