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State and Local Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act: Volume III - Accountability Under NCLB: Interim Report


"The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is to ensure that all children are proficient in reading and mathematics by the 2013-2014 school year. A key strategy of NCLB is to hold states, districts, and schools accountable for children's mastery of state content standards, as measured by state tests; information about districts' and schools' performance is to be shared with parents and educators and used to direct assistance to underperforming schools. This report draws on two federally funded studies - the Study of State Implementation of Accountability and Teacher Quality Under NCLB and the National Longitudinal Study of NCLB - to assess the progress that states, districts, and schools have made in implementing NCLB's accountability provisions through 2004-2005. The authors find that all states have enacted the accountability provisions required by NCLB and that most schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) in 2003-2004. High-poverty, high-minority, and urban schools were less likely to make AYP, and many of the schools that were identified for improvement reported needing technical assistance, especially to serve students with special needs, such as those with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Almost all schools reported engaging in voluntary improvement efforts. However, the authors note that NCLB accountability requirements are flexible in a number of areas, including how states defined their standards and "proficiency," and, as a result, there is large variation across states in the number and types of schools targeted for improvement."