The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 embodies four key principles:
- stronger accountability for results;
- greater flexibility and local control for states, school districts, and schools in the use of federal funds;
- enhanced parental choice for parents of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and;
- a focus on what works, emphasizing teaching methods that have been demonstrated to be effective.
In May 2002, California’s State Board of Education (SBE) demonstrated the state’s commitment to the development of an accountability system to achieve the goals of NCLB by adopting five Performance Goals:
- All students swill reach high standards, at a minimum attaining proficiency or better in reading and mathematics, by 2013-2014.
- All limited-English-proficient students will become proficient in English and reach high academic standards, at a minimum attaining proficiency or better in reading/language arts and mathematics.
- By 2005-2006, all students will be taught by highly qualified teachers.
- All students will be educated in learning environments that are safe, drug-free, and conducive to learning.
- All students will graduate from high school.
In addition, 12 performance indicators linked to those goals were adopted (see Appendix A), as specified by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). Performance targets, developed for each indicator, were adopted by the SBE in May 2003.
Collectively, NCLB’s goals, along with the performance indicators and targets, constitute California’s framework for ESEA accountability. This framework provides the basis for the state’s improvement efforts, informing policy decisions by SBE, and implementation efforts by CDE to fully realize the system envisioned by NCLB. It also provides a basis for coordination with California’s Legislature and the Governor’s Office.
Since 1995, California has been building an educational system consisting of five major components:
- rigorous academic standards
- standards-aligned instructional materials
- standards-based professional development
- standards-aligned assessment
- an accountability structure that measures school effectiveness in light of student achievement.
- As a result, California is well positioned to implement the tenets of NCLB.
State and federally funded initiatives aimed at improving student achievement must complement each other and work in tandem in order to have the greatest impact. In California, the state and federal consolidated applications, competitive grants, the state accountability system, the Categorical Program Monitoring process, local educational agency plans, professional development opportunities, and technical assistance all are moving toward a level of alignment and streamlining. The result of this consolidation will be to provide a cohesive, comprehensive, and focused effort for supporting and improving the state’s lowest-performing schools and appropriate reporting mechanisms.