The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is more inclusive than any previous federal school-reform legislation. Accountability based on student test results lies at the heart of NCLB, which requires states to set academic standards for all students, establish increasing annual targets for student performance, provide suitable assistance to schools to enable improvement, and offer educational alternatives for families with children in schools that have not shown adequate improvement despite assistance. NCLB assumes that districts and schools can solve their problems if given proper incentives and technical assistance. Yet other factors come into play over which schools have no control, such as the children's environment outside school and funding issues. So, success may not be simple. This paper offers guidance to the state policymakers, district administrators, and school principals who must implement NCLB. It presents RAND's synthesis of the evidence on educational accountability systems and describes the NCLB accountability model, discusses its underlying assumptions, and offers educators specific recommendations for effective operation in an era of accountability.
Table of Contents
The No Child Left Behind Act
The Practical Conditions Necessary for NCLB to Work
Making NCLB As Effective As Possible