No Child Left Behind includes stringent requirements for testing and accountability. States that have applied for and received waivers from the U.S. Department of Education are subject to alternative accountability systems.
Although NCLB covers numerous federal education programs, the law’s requirements for testing, accountability, and school improvement receive the most attention. NCLB requires states to test students in reading and mathematics annually in grades 3-8 and once in grades 10-12. States must test students in science once in each of grades 3-5, 6-8, and 10-12. Individual schools, school districts and states must publicly report test results in the aggregate and for specific student subgroups, including low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, and major racial and ethnic groups.
NCLB requires states, school districts, and schools to ensure all students are proficient in grade-level math and reading by 2014. States define grade-level performance. Schools must make “adequate yearly progress” toward this goal, whereby proficiency rates increase in the years leading up to 2014. The rate of increase required is chosen by each state. In order for a school to make adequate yearly progress (AYP), it must meet its targets for student reading and math proficiency each year. A state’s total student proficiency rate and the rate achieved by student subgroups are all considered in the AYP determination.
Source: Wisconsin Department of Education; New America Foundation