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Benefits of NCLB for You and Your Children
Accountability: No Child Left Behind requires strong accountability. For the first time, every public school is held accountable for the academic performance of every child—regardless of race or ethnicity, socio-economic status, disability or native language. The measure of accountability is Adequate Yearly Progress.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is defined by the states. They set certain goals for student achievement and measure progress by how well all students perform on state-developed tests. To make AYP, schools—as well as the groups of students mentioned above—must meet the state-set levels of achievement on these tests.
Testing to Measure Knowledge gives states the information they need to determine whether their schools and districts are making AYP. In addition, you'll get a confidential report on your own child's test results that can help you, your child and your child's teachers see how well he or she is learning, and whether additional help is needed. NCLB requires schools to test your child in reading or language arts and math every year in grades 3–8, using state developed tests. Your child will also be tested at least once in high school. By 2007–08, students will take science tests at least once during the elementary, middle and high school years.
Local Report Cards are prepared every year by school districts that receive Title I funds. They include information on how students performed on state tests—not only in the districts as a whole but also in individual schools. Districts must make the report cards easy to understand and available to parents (see sample report card on page 6). If you are not in a Title I district, your school district may still prepare a local report card; many do. In any event, your state will prepare a report card on student achievement in the state.
Flexibility: No Child Left Behind gives states and school districts more control and more flexibility to use resources where they are needed most. Principals and administrators can move funds from one program to another to use money wisely and to meet student needs.
Funding: No Child Left Behind has meant more federal money for schools. The president proposed $23.5 billion for NCLB funding in 2007, up from $17.4 billion in 2001. And while states and local communities still provide most of the funding for K–12 education, the federal share rose from 5.7 percent in 1990–91 to 8.9 percent in 2006–07. The other main federal K–12 education program is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Its funding has also increased in recent years.
Help for Children at Underperforming Title I Schools: No Child Left Behind offers options to students in Title I schools that are "in need of improvement," meaning they have not made AYP goals for two consecutive years or longer. Options depend on how long a school has not made AYP. These include public school choice and extra help with learning.
Public School Choice may let you transfer your child to another public school, which could be a public charter school, if your child attends a Title I school that has not made AYP for two years or longer. In addition, your school district may pay for the transportation of your child. Contact your child's school district to find out if your child is eligible for this opportunity.
Extra Help With Learning—or Supplemental Educational Services— could be free tutoring, homework help or other extra help outside the regular school day—before or after school, on weekends or in the summer. Your child may qualify if he or she is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and is enrolled in a Title I school that has not made AYP for three years or longer. Contact your child's school district to find out if your child qualifies.
Help for Underperforming Title I Schools: No Child Left Behind lays out an action plan and timetable for steps to be taken by a district and school to help get an underperforming school on track. First, the district identifies the kind of help needed depending on how long the school has been underperforming. In providing help, the district could see that school administrators get technical assistance as they develop and carry out a school improvement plan. Or help could mean professional development for teachers—or, possibly, a new curriculum. The goal is to assist schools in their efforts to improve student achievement.
High-Quality Teachers: No Child Left Behind provides funding to help teachers improve their instructional skills through training and other professional development. The law also requires states to develop plans to make sure that all teachers of core academic subjects are highly qualified. It defines a "highly qualified" teacher as one with a bachelor's degree, full state certification, and demonstrated competence for each subject taught. Finally, if your child is in a Title I school, NCLB requires the district to let you know of your "right to know"—and how to get—information on the qualifications of your child's teachers.
Parental Involvement: No Child Left Behind empowers you to ask important questions and make informed decisions about your child's education. The law also requires states, districts and schools to develop ways to get parents more involved in their child's education and in improving their child's school. For example, both Title I districts and schools must have written policies on parental involvement and provide this information to you.
Safe Schools: No Child Left Behind recognizes that children need to attend safe schools in order to succeed. Support for safe schools is a key part of the law. NCLB includes a variety of programs to help schools provide safe and healthy learning environments where violence, gangs and drugs are not present and school staff are prepared to respond to crisis situations. Although the rate of theft and violent crimes against students ages 12–18 has decreased in recent years, many parents and children remain concerned. If your child has been the victim of a violent crime at school or attends a school identified by your state as "persistently dangerous" under NCLB, he or she must be given the option of transferring to a safe school within the school district.
Sound Scientific Research as the Basis for Instructional Decisions: No Child Left Behind focuses on teaching methods that have been proven by research to work.
Strong Reading Instruction: No Child Left Behind provided more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2007 to help children learn to read through the Reading First program, which is dedicated to ensuring that all children learn to read on grade level by the third grade. The program provides money to states and many school districts to support high-quality reading programs based on the best scientific research. Contact your child's school district to find out if its reading program is based on such research.