President Bush’s Education Bill: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Published March 1, 2002

The U.S. Department of Education has placed information on President Bush’s new education bill online at The following information is based on the Fact Sheet from that site.

A few days after taking office in January 2001, President George W. Bush asked members of Congress to focus on how to use the federal role in education to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers.

The resulting bill that he signed almost a year later, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, H.R. 1, redefines the federal role in K-12 education with the aim of helping improve the academic achievement of all students. It is the most significant reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since it was enacted in 1965.

The bill’s reforms embody four principles:

  • stronger accountability for results;
  • expanded flexibility and local control;
  • expanded options for parents; and
  • an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.

The following are some of the key provisions of H.R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Stronger Accountability for Results

More Tests: H.R. 1 will result in the creation of assessments in each state that measure what children know and learn in reading and math in grades 3-8. Student progress and achievement will be measured according to tests that will be given to every child, every year.

More Feedback: H.R. 1 will empower parents, citizens, educators, administrators, and policymakers with data from those annual assessments. The data will be available in annual report cards on school performance and on statewide progress. They will give parents information about the quality of their children’s schools, the qualifications of teachers, and their children’s progress in key subjects.

More Comparisons: Statewide reports will include performance data disaggregated according to race, gender, and other criteria to demonstrate not only how well students are achieving overall but also progress in closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and other groups of students.

Expanded Flexibility and Local Control

Less Red Tape: To cut down on federal red tape and bureaucracy and enhance local control, H.R. 1 will reduce the overall number of ESEA programs at the U.S. Department of Education from 55 to 45.

Fewer Approvals: For the first time, H.R. 1 will offer most local school districts in America the freedom to transfer up to 50 percent of the federal dollars they receive among several education programs without separate approval.

More Freedom: For the first time, all 50 states will also have the freedom to transfer up to 50 percent of the non-Title I state activity funds they receive from the federal government among an assortment of ESEA programs without advance approval.

More Flexibility: H.R. 1 will allow the creation of up to 150 local flexibility demonstration projects for school districts interested in obtaining the flexibility to consolidate all funds they receive from several programs in exchange for entering into an agreement holding them accountable for higher academic performance.

More Options: Up to seven states will have new flexibility in the use of their non-Title I state-level federal funds in a variety of categories in the form of waivers from federal requirements relating to a variety of ESEA programs. States participating in the new demonstration projects will also be able to coordinate their efforts with local school districts through state-local “flexibility partnerships” designed to make sure federal education funds are being used effectively to meet student needs.

Rural Input: H.R. 1 will give local school officials serving rural schools and districts more flexibility and a greater say in how federal funds are used in their schools.

Expanded Options for Parents

Escape Ladders: H.R. 1 creates meaningful options for parents whose children are trapped in failing schools and makes these options available immediately.

Public School Choice: Parents with children in failing schools would be allowed to transfer their child to a better-performing public or charter school immediately after a school is identified as failing.

Supplemental Services: Federal Title I funds (approximately $500 to $1,000 per child) can be used to provide supplemental educational services–including tutoring, after-school services, and summer school programs–for children in failing schools.

Charter Schools: H.R. 1 expands federal support for charter schools by giving parents, educators, and interested community leaders greater opportunities to create new charter schools.

Emphasizing Teaching Methods that Work

Reading Instruction: H.R. 1 authorizes an increase in federal funding for reading from $300 million in Fiscal Year 2001 to more than $900 million in Fiscal Year 2002 and links that funding to scientifically proven methods of reading instruction through the President’s Reading First plan.

Teacher Quality: H.R. 1 asks states to put a highly qualified teacher in every public school classroom by 2005. The bill also makes it easier for local schools to recruit and retain excellent teachers. The bill also creates a new Teacher Quality Program.

Spending Flexibility: In addition to specific funds for teacher quality, H.R. 1 will also give local schools new freedom to make spending decisions with up to 50 percent of the non-Title I federal funds they receive. With this new freedom, a local school district can use additional funds for hiring new teachers, increasing teacher pay, improving teacher training and development, or other uses.

Other Provisions

Confirming Progress: Under H.R. 1 a small sample of students in each state will participate in the fourth- and eighth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading and math every other year in order to help the U.S. Department of Education verify the results of statewide assessments required under Title I to demonstrate student performance and progress.

Learning English: H.R. 1 consolidates the U.S. Department of Education’s bilingual and immigrant education programs in order to simplify program operations, increase flexibility, and focus support on enabling all limited English proficient (LEP) students to learn English as quickly and effectively as possible. The new Act will focus on helping LEP students learn English through scientifically based teaching methods.

Tests in English: Under H.R. 1, all LEP students will be tested for reading and language arts in English after they have attended school in the United States for three consecutive years. Parents will be notified if their child demonstrates limited English proficiency and is in need of English language instruction.