What is No Child Left Behind?

The national No Child Left Behind Act was approved by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2001, NCLB aims to improve academic performance for all students in all schools throughout the nation. Among its provisions, NCLB states that all students will attain "proficiency" in reading and mathematics by 2014 (including students with disabilities and English learners); all students will be taught by highly qualified teachers by 2005-06; all English learners will become proficient in English; all students will learn in schools that are safe and drug free; and all students will graduate from high school.

Who oversees the implementation of NCLB?

The California State Board of Education serves as the official "State Education Agency" with primary responsibility for overseeing implementation of NCLB> Together with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, lawmakers for the governor, the State Board of Education will continue to faithfully implement the provisions of NCLB so that California Achieves the maximum benefits from its funding.

Do NCLB's provisions match those of California's Public School Accountability Act established in 1999?

For the past several years, California public schools have made significant progress implementing standards and accountability throughout our schools and districts. Student academic achievement continues to improve throughout the state and those schools and districts that fail to make improvements receive some support, training and resources from the state to meet their challenges. Since NCLB was established after California's PSAA our state Board of Education is working o align our program wit the new national mandate yet also retain the PSAA focus on academic growth.

How does NCLB help our schools?

NCLB provides another opportunity for school leaders and districts to inform school communities about our progress in improving the academic achievements. It reinforces the work ewe are doing to set high standards for our students. The law requires that student test results be reported annually and separately for all different groups in the school, including various racial and ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged students, students whose primary language is not English, migrant students and students with disabilities. If a school or district fails to make adequate yearly progress - as determined by the State Board of Education - then they are classified as "schools or districts in need of improvement," and provided time and material to improve with prescribed criteria to improve student academic achievement.

What measures are used to determine Adequate Yearly Progress?

A school's and/or district's AYP is determined by four federally-mandated components: a 95 percent participation rate on assessments; annual minimum percentages at the advanced or proficient level on the state's English/Language Arts, math, and science content tests, the California High School Exit Exam and the California Alternative Performance Assessment for students with significant cognitive abilities; annual increases in high school graduation rates; and high performance on the state's Academic Performance Index.

What happens to schools that don't make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)?

Title I schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years in each subject tested or fail to make the 95 percent participation rate for all students and subgroups will be identified under "Program Improvement" status. Once a school is identified as PI, the district must offer students' school choice or supplemental tutoring services depending on the year of PI status. Schools are required to notify parents of these options.

How does a school's AYP complement its API?

The AYP and the API are extremely different measures of progress and achievement. On the one hand the AYP is based on progress toward the ultimate goal of 100& proficiency by 2014. ON the other hand, California's API emphasizes growth in overall academic achievement, with extra credit for scores in schools that successfully move students from the lowest achievement levels to the higher levels. All public schools and schools with similar demographic characteristics are compared and ranked from 1 (low) to 10 (high).

What are some of the specific challenges in aligning NCLB with California's own standards-based accountability program?

There are many challenges in implementing NCLB throughout the nation. A significant challenge for California stems from the state's definition of "proficient." When California adopted its standards and student performance targets - far below basic, below basic, basic, proficient and advanced - it set the bar high for student achievement. In California, "proficient" means ready for college, thereby indicating that by 2014 all of our graduating seniors will be college ready. Certainly that level of proficiency is not what NCLB aimed to achieve. However California remains steadfast in its commitment to high expectations for all students.

How can California guarantee that all students will attain "proficiency" in reading and mathematics by 2014?

NCLB requires states to set annual AYP goals called Annual Measurable Objectives for the percent of students and subgroups that are anticipated to meet "advance" or "proficient" on California Standards Tests (Grades 2-8) and CAHSEE (Grades 9-12). NCLB requires states to set AMO benchmark increases every three years over the next twelve years (2002-2014) to reach the ultimate goal of 100 percent of students at or above "proficient" by 2014. For the first several years the benchmarks allow schools to build the capacity to ensure more and more students reach "proficient." The benchmarks after 2007 are so challenging that even with great progress a school or district may be identified as not meeting AYP.

How can California guarantee that all teachers will be highly qualified by 2005-06?

The term "highly qualified" is misleading. One of our highest priorities in California is ensuring that all California teachers are NCLB compliant as defined by the federal law. The California Department of Education and the State Board of Education are finalizing NCLB Teacher Requirement Regulations that will help all California educators comply with the federal mandates. The Department of Education is also issuing guidelines to implement the NCLB Highly Objective Uniform State Standards of Evaluation and an evaluation guide to help administrators determine compliance for all California teachers in a timely manner. The objective of NCLB's compliance component is to ensure all teachers are competent to teach in the core subject(s) and grade spans they teach.

What other challenges does NCLB present in California?

NCLB's AYP participation rate of 95 percent is particularly daunting for California's high schools. This year, 65 percent of all high schools failed to meet AYP based solely on not meeting the 95 percent participation rate. Part of this failure is a result of California's postponement of the California High School Exit exam requirement until 2006. Another challenge for California is in meeting the needs of the thousands of schools that receive Title I funds, although some of the current requirements are not fully funded. Also students with disabilities ought not be singled out for failure for not meeting 100 percent proficiency (college ready) by 2014.

Where Can I go to Get More Information about NCLB?