The No Child Left Behind Act is a landmark education reform law that is already improving academic performance across the land. One of its chief aims is to close the troubling achievement gap that separates many disadvantaged, disabled and minority students from their peers.
To do this, it measures student performance and focuses extra resources and attention on those most in danger of falling behind. But what about the schools themselves?
Under No Child Left Behind, schools that receive federal funds to help teach and prepare educationally disadvantaged children must make what is called “Adequate Yearly Progress” in reading, language arts and mathematics. These clearly defined benchmark goals, which will be raised over time, have been put in place by each of the 50 states based upon what is appropriate for their local school districts.
If a school does not reach its annual goals, it is given extra assistance and another chance. If it again does not succeed the following year, the school is deemed “in need of improvement.” Extra resources are provided to the school, and new options and choices are provided to its students and parents.