American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Fact Sheet on Accountability

No Child Left Behind Act

Accountability is the centerpiece of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Act requires states to implement statewide accountability systems covering all public schools and students. These systems must be based on challenging state standards in reading and mathematics, annual testing for all students in Grades 3–8, and annual statewide progress objectives ensuring that all groups of students reach proficiency within 12 years. The Act requires a single statewide accountability system that will be effective in ensuring that all districts and schools make adequate yearly progress. NCLB requires states to use accommodations, modifications, and alternate assessments (as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]) as needed, and to ensure that students with disabilities participate fully in NCLB testing.

On March 20, 2003, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued proposed rules regarding state local education agencies (LEAs) and school accountability for the academic achievement of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The rulemaking established a 1% cap (aka the 1% rule) that permits up to 1% of those students in a state or district to be counted as proficient based on alternate achievement standards.

Definition of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

Each state establishes a definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP) by which it assesses the performance of each school district and school in meeting NCLB accountability requirements. Student assessment results and state progress objectives must be broken out by poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, and limited English proficiency to ensure that no group is left behind. The new definition of AYP is diagnostic in nature and intended to highlight where schools need improvement and should focus their resources.

  • Student achievement is judged relative to annual measurable objectives to determine if the school or LEA made AYP.
  • Each school and subgroup of students must meet its annual objective. If the objective has not been met, the school
    • must have decreased by 10% the percentage of students in that subgroup who are not proficient,
    • made progress on another indicator.
  • The method for calculating AYP ensures that schools and districts are focused on the accountability goal-all students proficient.

Components of AYP

Test performance

  • % proficient: reading/language arts
  • % proficient: mathematics

Test participation

  • reading/language arts
  • mathematics

Other indicator(s)

  • Graduation rate
  • Other-the state may, but is not required to, increase the goals of its other academic indicators over the course of the timeline

AYP Requirements

  • Same high standards of academic achievement for all students within the state
  • A statistically valid and reliable accountability system
  • Continuous and substantial academic improvement for all students
  • Separate measurable annual objectives for achievement
    • All students
    • Racial/ethnic minorities
    • Economically disadvantaged students
    • Students with disabilities (IDEA, Sec. 602)
    • Students with limited English proficiency
    • Graduation rates for high school and one other indicator for other schools

Schools That Do Not Show AYP

For each school and district (including those that do not receive funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA], concerning improving academic achievement of the disadvantaged), the state must

  • determine whether AYP has been achieved,
  • identify for improvement any Title I school that does not meet AYP for 2 consecutive years.

When a Title I school has been identified as needing improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, students attending that school may choose to attend a different school. The 3rd year of missing AYP triggers a requirement to provide supplemental educational services.

Districts and schools not participating under Title I are not subject to the requirements of Sec. 1116 regarding school improvement. School districts and schools that fail to make AYP toward statewide proficiency goals will, over time, be subject to improvement, corrective action, and restructuring measures aimed at getting them back on course to meet state standards. The statute grants flexibility to states and their LEAs to direct resources and tailor interventions to the needs of individual schools. Schools that meet or exceed AYP objectives or close achievement gaps will be eligible for State Academic Achievement Awards.

Responsibilities of Local Education Agencies (LEAs)

Each Title I LEA must

  • annually  review the progress of each Title I school to determine whether the school is making AYP;
  • publish and disseminate results to parents, teachers, schools, and the community;
  • review the effectiveness of activities to provide parent involvement, professional development, and other Title I activities.

State AYP Determination

Annual peer review

  • determines whether the state made AYP for each subgroup of students-as defined in Title I, Sec. 1111(b)(2),
  • determines whether the state met its annual measurable achievement objectives for limited English proficient (LEP) attainment of English proficiency under ESEA Title III, Part A, concerning strengthening institutions;
  • starts with the beginning of the 3rd school year of implementing Title I, Part A, and Title III, Part A.

Annual testing in reading and math for Grades 3–8 and once for Grades 10–12 is required. Testing must be based on state academic standards and curricula. If states do not have these, they must establish standards and curricula and develop these tests.

Additional Resources

ED website on NCLB

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