Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic requirements in the federal law for highly qualified teachers? 
The law requires that teachers meet these basic requirements:
-  Hold a bachelor's degree.
-  Obtain full state certification (which can be "alternative certification").
-  Demonstrate subject matter competency in the core academic subjects by passing the state professional
   teacher assessments.
Which academic subjects are considered the core academic subjects?
NCLB recognizes the importance of the liberal arts.  For this reason, "core academic subjects" include English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography.
What are the deadlines for meeting the highly qualified teacher requirements?
Beginning with the 2002-03 school year, teachers of core academic subjects newly hired to teach in Title I programs had to meet all requirements.  By the end of the 2005-06 school year, all teachers of core academic subjects must meet all requirements in every state that receives Title I funds.
What are the basic requirements for highly qualified paraprofessionals?
All Title I paraprofessionals must have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent.
Additionally, Title I paraprofessionals whose duties include instructional support and who were hired after January
8, 2002, must have met one of the following options:
-  completed two years of study at an institution of higher education;
-  obtained an associate's degree;
-  met a rigorous standard of quality and be able to demonstrate through a formal state or local academic
    assessment, knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing reading, writing, and mathematics.
Paraprofessionals hired on or before January 8, 2002, and working in a program supported with Title I funds"
must meet these requirements by January 8, 2006.
What is "adequate yearly progress"?  How does measuring it help to improve schools?
No Child Left Behind requires each state to define adequate yearly progress for school districts and schools, within the parameters set by Title I of NCLB.  In defining adequate yearly progress, each state sets the minimum levels of improvement - measurable in terms of student performance - that school districts and schools must achieve within time frames specified in the law.  In general, it works like this:  Each state begins by setting a starting point that is based on the performance of its lowest-achieving demographic group or of the lowest-achieving schools in the state, whichever is higher.  The state then sets the bar or level of student achievement that a school must attain in order to continue to show adequate yearly progress.  Subsequent thresholds must be raised at least once every three years, until, at the end of 12 years, all students in the state are achieving at the proficient level on state assessments in reading or language arts and math.
What if a school does not improve?
States and local school districts will aid schools that receive Title I funds in making meaningful changes that will improve their performance.  In the meantime, districts will offer parents options for children in schools needing improvement, including extra help to children from low-income families.
No Child Left Behind lays out an action plan and timetable for steps to be taken when a Title I school does not improve, as follows:

- A Title I school that has not made adequate yearly progress, as defined by the state, for two consecutive school years will be identified  by the district before the beginning of the next school year as needing improvement.  School officials will develop a two-year plan to  turn around the school.  The district will ensure that the school receives needed technical assistance as it develops and implements its improvement plan.  Students must be offered the option of transferring to another public school in the district - which may include a public charter school - that has not been identified as needing school improvement.

- If the school does not make adequate yearly progress for three years, the school remains in school-improvement status, and the district must continue to offer public school choice to all students.  In addition, students from low-income families are eligible to receive supplemental educational services, such as tutoring or remedial classes, from a state-approved provider and selected by parents.

- If the school does not make adequate progress for four years, the district must implement certain corrective actions to improve the school, such as replacing certain staff or fully implementing a new curriculum, while continuing to offer public school choice and supplemental educational services for low-income students.

- If a school does not make adequate yearly progress for a fifth year, the school district must initiate plans for restructuring the school.  This may include reopening the school as a charter school, replacing all or most of the school staff or turning over school operations either to the state or to a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness.

In addition, the law requires states to identify for improvement those districts that do not make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years or longer and to take corrective actions.

On which subjects are students tested?  When are they tested?
No Child Left Behind requires that by the 2005-06 school year, each state measure every child's progress in reading and math in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once during grades 10 through 12.  In the meantime, each state must administer for assessments in reading and math at three grade spans (3-5, 6-9 and 10-12).  By school year 2007-2008, states must also have in place science assessments to be administered at least once during grades 3-5, grades 6-9 and grades 10-12.  Further, states must ensure that districts administer tests of English proficiency - measuring oral language, listening, comprehension, reading, and writing skills in English - to all English language learners, as of the 2002-03 school year.

Students may still undergo state assessments in other subject areas (i.e., history, geography and writing skills), if and when the state requires it.  No Child Left Behind, however, currently requires assessments only in the areas of reading and language arts, and mathematics.  In 2007-2008, science assessments will also be required.

How is testing handled for children with disabilities?  How is it handled for those with limited English proficiency?
No Child Left Behind requires that all children be assessed.  In order to show adequate yearly progress, schools must test at least 95 percent of the various subgroups of children, including students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.  For students with severe disabilities, states must create alternative assessments.  These are designed by the state for students with significant disabilities who are unable to take a regular assessment, even with appropriate accommodations.  States must provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities or limited English proficiency.  For the latter, accommodations may include native-language versions of the assessment; however, in the area of reading  and language arts, students who have been in U.S. schools for three consecutive years must be assessed annually in English.

For more information on accommodations in a particular state, contact your state education agency.

What is the Unsafe School Choice Option in No Child Left Behind?
The Unsafe School Choice Option provision of No Child Left Behind requires that each state receiving funds under NCLB establish and implement a statewide policy requiring that students attending a persistently dangerous public elementary or secondary school, or students who become victims of a violent criminal offense while in or on the grounds of a public school that they attend, be allowed to attend a safe public school.  More learning can take place in classrooms where students feel safe.

- Each state must have identified schools as persistently dangerous in sufficient time to offer a transfer option to students 14 days in advance of the start of the school year.

- Each state must have identified schools as persistently dangerous in sufficient time so that the district can offer a transfer option to affected students 14 days in advance of the start of the school year.