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Fact Sheet: No Child Left Behind Has Raised Expectations and Improved Results

Since No Child Left Behind Took Effect, Test Scores Have Risen, Accountability Has Increased, And The Achievement Gap Between White And Minority Students Has Narrowed

In 2002, President Bush signed the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This groundbreaking, bipartisan law brought Republicans and Democrats together to expand opportunities for American children of all backgrounds and provide all our children with the quality education they deserve while preserving local control. President Bush transformed the Federal government's approach to education through No Child Left Behind. The results are clear: African American and Hispanic students have posted all-time highs in a number of categories.

  • President Bush believes we must have high expectations for every student.He has provided increased Federal education funding to schools so they can help our students reach these expectations. He has given parents more information about schools and more say in how their children are educated.As a result, under NCLB, all students have a better chance to learn, excel, and achieve their dreams.
  • No Child Left Behind has increased accountability by requiring all schools to help all of their students meet State-set standards. It has focused our national conversation on education on results. When President Bush took office in 2001, only 11 States were in full compliance with the previous Federal accountability requirements, and some did not even participate in the Nation's Report Card or the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Little objective data was available to know whether our students were acquiring at least grade-level skills. Today:
    • All 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have accountability plans in place;
    • All 50 States, D.C., and Puerto Rico assess public school students annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school to measure progress toward grade-level proficiency;
    • All 50 States, D.C., and Puerto Rico offer parents “report cards” on their public schools; and
    • All 50 States, D.C., and Puerto Rico participate in the Nation's Report Card.

NCLB Has Worked For Children Of All Backgrounds, In Every Part Of The Country

As the 2007 Nation's Report Card shows, NCLB is helping raise achievement for all kinds of children, in all kinds of schools. Minority students, low-income students, and students with disabilities have shown improvements in a number of areas. As a result, the achievement gap is narrowing.

  • President Bush confronted the soft bigotry of low expectations. The Nation's Report Card shows African-American students, Hispanic students, and students with disabilities are progressing in many categories.
    • In fourth-grade reading, the achievement gap between white and African-American students is at an all-time low.
    • In math, fourth- and eighth-grade African-American students achieved their highest scores to date.
    • In fourth-grade reading and in fourth and eighth-grade math, Hispanic students set new achievement records. In reading, Hispanic eighth-graders matched their all-time high.
    • Average reading scores for fourth-grade students with disabilities improved 23 points between 2000 and 2007.
  • Through NCLB, we have invested more in our schools, and we are expecting and getting results nationwide. The Nation's Report Card shows improvement in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math achievement.
    • Since 2002, fourth-graders have shown significant increases in reading achievement, with the highest rate of improvement coming among lower-performing students. As a result, in 2007, U.S. fourth-graders achieved their highest reading scores on record.
    • All students are increasing achievement in math. Since 2003, significant gains in math have occurred for both higher- and lower-performing children in both fourth- and eighth grades, and in 2007, both fourth- and eighth- graders posted their highest math scores on record.
    • Nearly one million more students have learned basic math skills since the law was passed.

NCLB Put America's Schools On A New Path Of Reform And A New Path to Results, Via Four Key Principles:

  • Every child can learn, we expect every child to learn, and we must hold ourselves accountable for every child's education. We must assess whether a child can read and do math at grade level. Under NCLB, when we find that students in a particular school are not learning, we give that school time, incentives, and resources to improve. The school must do whatever is necessary to help students reach grade level by 2014.
    • Support for Title I Grants to high-poverty schools is stronger than ever at $14.3 billion, an increase of 63percent since the enactment of NCLB.
    • Support for special education programs is $12 billion, an increase of 67 percent since 2001.
  • Government must trust parents to make the right decisions for their children. For reform to be meaningful, parents must have real options to choose the best schools to meet their child's individual needs. Under NCLB, if a school does not perform or improve, a parent has the option to choose a better public school, a public charter school, or a tutor. To ensure these options are available and of high quality, President Bush has provided more than $1.6billion to help support charter schools, which has helped contribute to the number of charter schools nationwide more than doubling since 2000. The President also established the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships program, the first Federal school-choice program, which has provided more than 2,600 students with scholarships to attend the private or religious school of their choice.
  • NCLB established the principle that Federal funding should be invested in programs that have rigorous research demonstrating their effectiveness. Reading First has provided more than $6 billion to fund scientifically-based instructional programs, valid and reliable diagnostic assessments, and professional development for teachers. State data shows that Reading First students from nearly every grade and subgroup have made impressive gains in reading proficiency. For first grade, 44 of 50 States reported increases in the percentage of students proficient in reading comprehension; for second grade, 39 of 52 States reported improvement; and for third grade, 27 of 35 States reported improvement.
  • The Federal government must trust local educators and provide flexibility to States and school districts. Under NCLB, States must set high standards and hold schools accountable for results, and the Federal government supports both these activities with increased resources and flexibility. Over the past several years, the Administration has created a series of new pilot programs and regulations that further increase this flexibility, such as the Growth Model Pilot, which allows schools to get credit for individual student progress.

Strengthening NCLB For The Future

In 2007, the President released Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act, which proposed common-sense improvements to NCLB. The President's plan called on Congress to:

  • Strengthen efforts to close the achievement gap through high standards, accountability, and more information for parents.

  • Give States flexibility to better measure individual student progress, target resources to students most in need, and improve assessments for students with disabilities and limited English proficiency.

  • Prepare high school students for success in postsecondary education and the 21st century workforce by promoting rigorous and advanced coursework and providing new resources for schools serving low-income students.

  • Provide greater resources for teachers to further close the achievement gap through improved math and science instruction, intensive aid for struggling students, and rewards for exceptional teachers who raise student achievement.

  • Offer additional tools to help local educators turn around chronically underperforming schools and empower parents with better information and increased school choice options.

When Congress failed to reauthorize NCLB, President Bush asked Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to take a series of administrative steps that would strengthen NCLB and ensure continued progress toward the goal of every child reading and doing math at grade level by 2014.

  • The Secretary gave States flexibility to help turn around schools in need of improvement. In March 2008, the Secretary announced the Differentiated Accountability Pilot, which allows States to differentiate their school interventions based on the academic reasons that have caused schools to be identified as needing improvement.
  • New regulations strengthened No Child Left Behind. Secretary Spellings proposed a package of regulations that address the dropout crisis in America, strengthen accountability, improve our lowest-performing schools, and ensure that more students get access to high-quality tutoring. The regulations, which became final in October 2008, seek to:
    • Address the dropout crisis and ensure accurate reporting of graduation rates. The regulations build on the work of the National Governor's Association to establish a uniform measure that shows how many incoming freshman in a given high school graduate within four years. All States will use the same formula to calculate how many students graduate from high school on time and how many drop out.
    • Strengthen accountability. The regulations outline the criteria that States must meet in order to incorporate individual student progress into the State's definition of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and require States and districts to report reading and math results from the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress to help parents evaluate the performance of their State and district.
    • Improve our lowest-performing schools. A recent study found that 40 percent of schools in restructuring did not implement any of the restructuring options under the law. The proposed regulations will clarify that restructuring interventions must be more rigorous and that interventions must address the reasons for the restructuring.
    • Increase student access to high-quality tutoring and school choice. The regulations ensure parents are notified in a clear and timely way about their public school choice and Supplemental Education Service options. The proposed regulations ensure that States and districts make more information available to the public about what tutoring providers are available, how these providers are approved and monitored, and how effective they are in helping students improve.

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