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No Child Left Behind - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.
Important Notice

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reauthorizing the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the 2001 reauthorization of ESEA. The ESSA takes effect beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

For more information, please visit the ESSA Web page for information regarding California’s plan to implement the federal ESSA.


On January 8, 2002, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 was passed by Congress. This federal law contains the most sweeping changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since it was enacted in 1965. NCLB also has made the federal role in education more prominent than ever. It changed the federal government’s role in kindergarten through grade twelve education by requiring schools to demonstrate their success in terms of the academic achievement of every student. With Title I as the cornerstone and students of greatest academic needs in high-poverty schools as the focus, NCLB emphasizes stronger accountability for results, expanded options for parents, and improvement in teacher quality. NCLB includes the following requirements:

  • With academic content standards in place, states must test every student’s progress toward those standards by using assessments that are aligned with the standards. Beginning in the 2005–06 school year, tests in mathematics and reading had to be administered every year in grades three through eight and once in grades ten through twelve. Beginning in the 2007–08 school year, science achievement testing is also required.
  • Each state, school, and local educational agency (LEA) is expected to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward meeting state standards. (An LEA is a school district, direct-funded charter school, or a county office of education.) Test results are sorted to measure the progress of all students, including students who are economically disadvantaged, are from racial or ethnic subgroups, have disabilities, or have limited English proficiency (see the Adequate Yearly Progress section below for more information).
  • State, school, and LEA performance is publicly reported in report cards (see the Accountability Report Cards section below for further information).
  • If a Title I school or LEA fails to make AYP for two or more consecutive years in specific areas, it is identified for Program Improvement (see the Program Improvement section below for further information).
Questions: Student Achievement and Support Division | | 916-319-0926 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, March 07, 2024
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