Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Issue Brief and Resources
Background: Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, initially authorized in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was signed into law on January 8, 2002 as a means of holding states, school districts, and schools more accountable for improving the academic performance of each student regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, proficiency in English or disability. The law requires states to:
- Establish rigorous academic standards.
- Conduct annual assessments at specific grade levels with at least a 95 percent participation rate.
- Implement a comprehensive accountability system that includes extensive data collection and public reporting on student and school performance.
- Direct formal sanctions against Title I schools and their school districts for failing to meet proficiency targets in reading and math.
- Establish new qualification requirements for teachers and paraprofessionals beyond the standards previously established by many states.
In establishing this federal framework for accountability, NCLB provides states discretion to: (1) establish content and performance standards; (2) select and operate assessment programs; and (3) establish requirements to monitor and report academic performance of groups of students who have traditionally not been performing at the desired levels.
Why is This Important to Your School District?
Local school districts and states need federal funding to supplement their own state and local community funding. This is particularly true in implementing additional federal program requirements on public education and in addressing some of the national concerns that extend beyond the capacity of states and local communities. Examples include public education services for students in poverty, students with disabilities, and students not proficient in English.
What to Tell Congress: NSBA's Position
Local school board members and other stakeholders need to tell members of Congress that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act established a rigorous but theoretical accountability system for the nation's public schools. Unfortunately, what has evolved in the name of accountability is a measurement framework that bases its assessment of school quality on a student's performance on a single assessment; and mandates a series of overbroad sanctions not always targeted to the students needing services, and, to date, not yet proven to have a significant impact on improving student performance and school performance.
Local school board members need to tell their members of Congress that after nine years of enactment of the federal law, local school districts continue to struggle to comply with the language of the law at a time when the unintended consequences of this complex law are imposing far more dysfunctional and illogical implementation problems than had been anticipated by the sponsors of the legislation. Additionally, federal and state lawmakers have become increasingly aware that successful attainment of the desired national goals is very much dependent upon the capacity of the state departments of education and the capacity of local school districts.
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Looking for more information? See what’s Inside Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
on the right.
NSBA Issue Brief: Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Learn more about NSBA's recommendations for the reauthorization of ESEA.
Letter to Chairman Kline re. Committee Mark-Up on the Student Success Act, H.R. 3989 and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, H.R. 3990
February 27, 2012 - NSBA submits comprehensive recommendations to the House Education & the Workforce Committee
NSBA's Cover Letter and Attachment to Members of the Senate HELP Committee re. draft on Reauthorization of ESEA
October 17, 2011 - NSBA submits comprehensive recommendations to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
NSBA's Letter to Secretary Duncan re. Regulatory Relief Under NCLB
July 19, 2011 - NSBA expresses appreciation to Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education for their willingness to grant regulatory relief from requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act
NSBA's Letter to House Education Committee Supporting H.R. 2445
July 11, 2011 - NSBA urges support for H.R. 2445, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act
NSBA's Letter to House and Senate Committee Leadership
January 7, 2011 - NSBA reaffirms the urgency in reauthorizing ESEA.
A Blueprint for Reform: ESEA Reauthorization
April 1, 2010 - Read NSBA's quick reference summary for local school board members.
NSBA Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
March 26, 2010 - NSBA submits comprehensive recommendations to the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Joint Statement on the Reauthorization of ESEA
March 2010 - NSBA signs a joint statement on the reauthorization of ESEA along with AASA, NEA, NAESP, and NASSP.
Additional Background Information on No Child Left Behind
Congressional Actions During the 110th Congress (2007-2008)
U.S. Department of Education Actions (2008)
Analysis of State AYP Results for 2007-2008
A state-by-state look at AYP results.