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Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the evidence that it is working has continued to grow. Because of this law, teachers and parents are getting the information and help they need to help every child reach his or her best in school—and as a result, student achievement is rising across America. While school districts and states have made great progress in implementing the goals of No Child Left Behind on behalf of students and families, our work is clearly far from over.
When schools do not meet annual performance goals for several years running, No Child Left Behind provides families with choices, including free tutoring and school transfers so their children can attend a better-performing school. By now, though, we have all read reports or heard stories of families unable to take advantage of these important options. That's why, in December 2006, I launched a project to learn more about how the public school choice and supplemental educational services provisions of the law are working. As part of this project, staff from my Office of Innovation and Improvement visited 14 school districts across the country, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Little Rock, Ark., to Miami, Fla. They listened to families, educators, and local and state administrators, and learned a great deal about the challenges and successes experienced in providing these options to parents.
This handbook details the results of those discussions, providing ways for districts and states to make No Child Left Behind's public school choice and tutoring provisions work for students and families. Together, we must continue to find effective ways to give parents information and to implement these options faithfully for the students who need them.
I've seen for myself that these options can make a profound difference in students' lives when—from the superintendent, to the teacher's aide, to the tutor—there is mutual dedication to making them work. It's not an easy task, but it is an essential one to the future of our students and our country.
As I have said many times before, parents know what is best for their children. I hope that this guide is useful to you as you help empower parents with information and options.
Margaret Spellings, Secretary
U.S. Department of Education