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The NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLB) Act of 2001

The following summary is based on information found on the websites listed below.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was signed into law in January of 2002 and was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). NCLB stresses accountability and was designed to close the gap between disadvantaged, disabled and minority students, and their peers.

The four principles on which NCLB is based:

  • Stronger accountability for results
  • Increased flexibility and local control
  • Expanded options for parents
  • Focusing on what works

It is divided into 10 sections (Titles):

  • Title I: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged
  • Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals
  • Title III: Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students
  • Title IV: 21st Century Schools
  • Title V: Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs
  • Title VI: Flexibility and Accountability
  • Title VII: Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alask Native Education
  • Title VIII: Imapct Aid Program
  • Title IX: General Provisions
  • Title X: Repeals, Redesignations and Amendments to Other Statutes

Schools must conform to NCLB beginning 2005-2006. Science assessments will be required in 2007-2008. By 2013-2014, all students -- including students with disabilities -- are expected to be proficient in reading and math according to their state's plan.

How does NCLB affect students with disabilities?

Here are some of the major areas in which students with disabilities are affected under Titles I and II of NCLB.

(Please note: NCLB is a complex law, made even more complex when it intersects with IDEA. This is a general summary only and does not discuss all areas of NCLB that may affect students with disabilities. Consult additional resources for more detailed information.)

Area NCLB requires Issues for CSHCN
Standards NCLB requires all states to adopt standards in math, reading/ language arts, and -- beginning in 2007-2008 -- science, and make them available to the public. These standards are to apply equally to children with disabilities. Alternate academic achievement standards may be set for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
Assessments NCLB establishes new requirements for testing. All schools will measure student achievement yearly in reading in math in grades 3-9, and at least once during high school. Students will assessed in science starting 2007-2008. Students with disabilities must participate in annual assessments. They may take
  • regular grade-level assessments
  • regular assessments with accommodations
  • alternate assessments based on grade-level achievement standards,
  • or
  • alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards
Adequate yearly progress (AYP) NCLB requires annual achievements objectives. AYP provisions require that these objectives establish annual targets for all students. In calculating a school's AYP, 4 subgroups data must be disaggregated:
  • economically disadvantaged
  • Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
  • students with disabilities
  • students from major racial/ethnic groups
If AYP is not attained for any of these groups, the school does not make AYP.

Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities can test with alternate achievement standards, but the percentage of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities must not exceed 1% of all students in grades assessed. (On April 7, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced a new policy, allowing states an additional 2% increase, by creating a new category of student, those with "persistent academic difficulties." Guidelines are available on the US Dept of Education webpage.)
School choice Schools that do not achieve AYP over time may be subject to "improvement". One improvement measure is school choice. Parents may transfer their children to a better performing school within the school district. Any public school option must provide FAPE.

Change in location of delivery of services does not equate to change of placement under IDEA

School choice options do not have to be the same choices as for nondisabled students.
Supplemental Services Students from low-income families in schools that do not achieve AYP for at least 3 years are eligible to receive supplemental services, such as tutoring, after-school services and summer school. Supplemental services for children with disabilities must be consistent with their IEP, are NOT part of the IEP, and require parental consent.
Highly qualified teachers NCLB sets criteria for teachers in order for them to be considered "highly qualified." This requirement applies only to teachers providing direct instruction in core academic subjects: English, reading/ language arts, civics and government, math, science, foreign languages, economics, arts, history and geography. Special education is not specifically identified in NCLB. However, if a special education teacher is providing instruction in one or more academic subjects, he or she must meet "highly qualified" criteria. If a teacher is providing consultation only, then that teacher does not need to meet the criteria.
Paraprofessionals NCLB sets standards for those paraprofessionals who have instructional duties (including tutoring, lab or library assistance, translation) and work in schools that receive Title I funds. If a paraprofessional does NOT provide instructional support, but only personal care services, they do not need to meet NCLB standards. If they perform both types of duties, they must meet the standards.

Web Resources

California Department of Education NCLB page
http://www.cde.ca.gov/nclb/index.asp
This site provides information about California's compliance with federal NCLB requirements.

Center for Law and Education: School Choice Under the No Child Left Behind Act: Issues and Implications for Students with Disabilities
http://www.cleweb.org/disabilities/NCLB%20Choice%20and%20disability.pdf
This paper focuses on School Choice (the option to transfer to another public school when a school is identified for "improvement") and how it may affect children with disabilities.

Council for Exceptional Children: No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Implications for Special Education Policy and Practices
http://www.cec.sped.org/pp/NCLBside-by-side.pdf
Side by side analysis of the statute and its implications for special education issues.

IDEA and NCLB: The Intersection of Access and Outcomes
http://www.nasdse.org/government.cfm?pagegovernmentid=5
A publication from the National Association of State Directors of Special Education

Making the "No Child Left Behind Act" Work for Children Who Struggle to Learn: A Parent's Guide
http://ld.org/NCLB/MakingNCLBwork.pdf
A publication from National Center for Learning Disabilities and Schwab Foundation for Learning

National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS): Children with Disabilities Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB):Myths and Realities
http://www.napas.org/publicpolicy/MR_Final_04-04.htm
Discusses issues relating to testing of students with disabilities under NCLB.

National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Action Alert on NCLB
http://capwiz.com/ndss/issues/alert/?alertid=5771676
This Action Alert contains comprehensive information about NCLB and how it affects students with disabilities, particularly students who have Down Syndrome. It includes a glossary and links to more information.

NICHCY's NCLB Resources
http://www.nichcy.org/resources/nclb.asp
An extensive list of links -- everything you ever wanted to know about No Child Left Behind.

Special Edge article: NCLB and Implications for Special Education
http://www.calstat.org/publications/pdfs/edge_spring_03.pdf
Special Edge is a newsletter produced by the CalSTAT Project, with funding from the California Department of Education, Special Education Division.

Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers -- NCLB page
http://www.taalliance.org/nclb/index.htm
Links to sources of information about NCLB.

WestEd's R&D Report on NCLB and IDEA
http://www.wested.org/online_pubs/RD-04-01.pdf
The report includes a discussion of "highly qualified teachers" under NCLB.

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The information on these pages has been gleaned from several sources, but it is not necessarily comprehensive. We have endeavored to present it in the most thorough and accessible way possible. If you find that any information is incorrect, if you would like to offer feedback or if you know of additional resources that may be helpful to include, please contact us.

This page was last updated: July 26, 2012


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