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No Educator Left Behind:
Test Participation

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 schools affected if a large number of students are absent on the day assessments are given?


NCLB requires that 95 percent of students participate in assessments. However, the law also gives states the flexibility to design their own assessment systems. This means that a state can allow students to take assessments during a "testing window" over several days, or even several weeks. This flexibility ensures that students who may unexpectedly be absent are given the opportunity to take the assessment.

In addition, in March 2004, the U.S. Department of Education announced it would allow states the option of averaging participation rates over either two or three years in order to take into account any unanticipated and unpreventable student absences. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education also clarified that students who were unable to take a state developed assessment anytime during the testing window due to a significant medical emergency (such as a car accident) would not be counted against a school's participation rate.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.