What Parents Need to Know
September 2007
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The Importance of No Child Left Behind

As the parent of a school-aged child, you've no doubt heard about No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and would like to understand what it means—especially the benefits it offers you and your child.

On January 8, 2002, NCLB was signed into law. Americans united behind a revolutionary idea: every child can learn. The law confirms that as a nation, we will not accept a public school system that educates only a portion of its children.

NCLB recognizes what truly makes a difference in providing a quality education. It calls for a highly qualified teacher in the core subjects in every classroom; the use of proven, research-based instructional methods; and timely information and options for parents. Schools that underperform are held accountable, providing their students with free tutoring or transfer to a better-performing public school. In other words, children's education needs are placed first—where they belong.

To achieve its goals, NCLB works according to four common-sense principles:

  • holding schools accountable for results;
  • giving states and districts flexibility in how they spend federal money;
  • using scientific research to guide classroom practice; and
  • involving parents by giving them information and choices about their children's education.

In 1965, Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), providing, for the first time, significant federal funding for K–12 education. The original law has been renewed eight times, most recently by NCLB.

"No Child Left Behind is about a commitment to all children, and, of course, it's one that we absolutely must honor if we're going to continue to thrive as the great nation that we are."
—Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings

Title I of No Child Left Behind is "Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged." Why is this important to your understanding of NCLB? Because schools with high concentrations of children from low-income families receive Title I money, which is most of the federal K–12 education funds ($12.7 billion for the school year 2006-07). They receive this money through their states and districts, and more than half of all public schools (55 percent) fall into this category, often called "Title I schools."

For states to get any Title I money, they must ensure that all of their public schools and school districts meet certain requirements set forth in NCLB. For Title I schools, NCLB requires additional measures to ensure that America's neediest students are no longer left behind. All of these requirements are designed to put into practice the four common sense principles above and provide benefits for your child that—taken together—will guarantee the excellent education he or she deserves and needs.

"There is wisdom in the words, 'What gets measured gets done.'"
—Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings

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Last Modified: 04/08/2008