No Child Left Behind Act

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (No Child Left Behind) is a landmark in education reform to improve student achievement and change the culture of America's schools. President George W. Bush describes the law as the "cornerstone of my administration." Clearly, our children are our future, and as President Bush has expressed, "Too many of our neediest children are being left behind."

With passage of No Child Left Behind, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - the principal federal law affecting education from kindergarten through high school. In amending ESEA, the new law represents a sweeping overhaul of federal efforts to support elementary and secondary education in the United States. It is built on four common-sense pillars: accountability for results; an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research; expanded parental options; and expanded local control and flexibility.

Under No Child Left Behind, as a condition of receiving federal funding, states are required to participate in the NAEP math and reading assessments for fourth- and eighth-grade students every two years, beginning in 2002-03. Resulting data will significantly increase information that parents - and others - can use to compare the performance of children in one state with that of children in another state. To carry it one step further, NAEP data will highlight the rigor of standards and tests for individual states; if there is a large discrepancy between children's proficiency on a state's tests and their performance on NAEP, then the state needs to take a closer look at its standards and assessments and consider making improvements.

No Child Left Behind sets forth rigorous requirements to ensure that research is scientifically based. It moves the testing of educational practices toward the medical model used by scientists to assess the effectiveness of medications, therapies and the like. Studies that test random samples of the population and that involve a control group are scientifically controlled. To gain scientifically based research about a particular educational program or practice, it must be the subject of such a study.

The information cited above can be obtained from a report published by the U.S. Department of Education. The report is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, No Child Left Behind: A Parents Guide, Washington, D.C., 2003.)

To order copies of this report,

  • Write to: Education Publications Center, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398; or
  • Fax your request to: (301) 470-1244; or
  • E-mail your request to: [email protected]; or
  • Call in your request toll-free: 1-877-433-7827 (1-877-4-ED-PUBS).
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This report is also available on the Department's Web site at and is available at For general information, visit or call 1-888-814-NCLB.