The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is the most significant and controversial change in federal education policy since the federal government assumed a major role in education in the 1960s. It expands the federal role in education, requires states to develop and implement a test-based accountability system based on criteria established by the federal government, and specifies a timeline for when students must demonstrate proficiency as measured by reading and mathematics assessments. For those schools not meeting the state-defined proficiency criteria, the law contains funding set asides and sanctions based on theories of competition as a strategy for school reform. To meet these requirements, it promises large increases in federal aid.

NCLB reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Since its ...

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