No Child Left Behind Law Introduces Major Education Reforms

2002

President George W. Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act, a sweeping education reform law that reauthorizes and revises the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The new law requires states to develop a plan to identify poorly performing public schools and establish educational standards that all students must meet. States must annually test students in grades 3 through 8 in reading and math, as well as test students once during grades 10 through 12.

Schools that fail to make “adequate yearly progress” toward state proficiency standards must permit students to transfer to better-performing public schools. If poor performance continues, schools are also required to offer supplemental services to students, such as private tutoring. Schools that persist in low performance must then implement corrective actions, such as replacing certain teachers or adjusting the curriculum, or they risk being restructured or taken over by the state.

The law establishes requirements for all public school teachers to be “highly qualified” in their specialized subject areas by the end of the 2006 school year. The law also recommends that schools experiment with merit pay to retain the best teachers.