A Work in Progress: State Compliance with NCLB

Published March 1, 2003

When President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) bill in January 2002, the law established some 40 major compliance requirements in seven different areas, ranging from testing programs and state report cards to school choice provisions and teacher quality requirements.

Now, a year later, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) has developed an easy-to-use online database that provides an ongoing summary of the progress the 50 states and the District of Columbia are making against those 40 measures. It also provides links and references to the detailed legislative authority for each implemented measure.

ECS reports most states still have much work to do to comply with the NCLB law. Overall, only 12 states are on track to comply with just half of the 40 requirements. North Carolina is furthest along, followed closely by Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Ten states and the District of Columbia are on track to comply with less than a quarter of the requirements, with Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Oregon on track with only three requirements each. It should be noted that the deadlines for compliance with several requirements are several years into the future.

ECS also finds for the states and District of Columbia:

  • While 83 percent are on track to establish science standards, only 33 percent or less are on track to establish annual assessments in reading and math.
  • Barely half (48 percent) are on track to establish the public school choice provision of NCLB.
  • 10 percent or less are on track to develop criteria for unsafe schools or the transfer policy for students in unsafe schools.
  • Only 10 percent (five states) are on track to develop a state report card.
  • Only one state–Wisconsin–is on track to place a highly qualified teacher in every classroom.

The information in the database represents state laws, departmental regulations, board rules, directives, and practices related to 40 requirements across seven major sections of the NCLB legislation. These baseline data have been compiled by ECS researchers in conjunction with state policymakers and their staffs. The database will be updated frequently as policies change.

According to ECS, the goal of the online database is to provide state policymakers, their staff members, and the public with information about the status of education policy in their state. This information will then meet the following objectives:

  • Establish a baseline by which to track policy developments, changes, or enactments in the 50 states and District of Columbia over the coming year.
  • Develop a “real-time,” nationwide gap analysis of NCLB implementation efforts.
  • Provide a means for states and policy organizations to identify technical assistance needs.
  • Identify notable policies, programs, or practices that could help individual states address unique cultural or political realities confronting them during implementation.
  • Illustrate possible scenarios for meeting NCLB requirements.

George A. Clowes is managing editor of School Reform News. His email address is [email protected].

For more information …

The online database developed and maintained by the Education Commission of the States, showing state-by-state compliance with the No Child Left Behind law, is available at http://nclb.ecs.org/nclb.