No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.
How are federal funds specifically tied to achievement?
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act does not directly link funding to achievement. However, it does create accountability systems, with true consequences for schools that are consistently low performing.
Under NCLB, states developed and implemented a plan for adequate yearly progress (AYP). AYP is an individual state's measure of yearly progress toward achieving state academic standards. It sets the minimum level of improvement that states, school districts, and schools must achieve each year. NCLB raises the bar of expectations for all students -- especially those ethnic groups and those disadvantaged students who are falling farther and farther behind and who are most in danger of being left behind. States start by defining adequate yearly progress -- the measurements of academic improvement a school must achieve to ensure that, at the end of 12 years, every student graduating will have a mastery of the basics.
Each state chooses where to set the initial academic achievement bar based on the lowest-achieving demographic group or based on the lowest-achieving schools in the state, whichever is higher. Once the initial bar is established, the state is required to "raise the bar" gradually to reach 100 percent proficiency at the end of 12 years. The initial bar must be raised after two years and subsequent thresholds must be raised at least once every three years. Schools that have not made state-defined adequate yearly progress for two consecutive school years are identified as needing school improvement before the beginning of the next school year.
Immediately after a school is found to be in need of improvement, officials receive help and technical assistance. These schools must develop a two-year plan to turn around the school. Every student in the school will be given the option to transfer to a better public school in the district. If the school does not make adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years, the school remains in school improvement and the district must continue to offer public school choice to all students. The school must also provide supplemental educational services to disadvantaged children. Parents can chose the services their child needs from a list of approved providers. If the school remains in a failing status for consecutive years, more steps are taken to ensure improvement, leading to the eventual complete restructuring of the school, if it is unable to improve.
Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.