As I understand it (and I could be wrong,) it’s not a state-wide or even school-district-wide thing. It’s school by school. Standard tests are given to kids in all the schools. If the Snerd Elementary School comes up with a much worse than average score, (I’m unclear on the details here) parents get the right (and maybe some of the money) to bail out to a different school.
The law, and the Bush administration’s overall education policy, are magnets for controversy. Folks on both sides of the issue get very steamed about it. Since this is in General Questions, there isn’t much more I can say.
There are many consequences for schools that do not make progress in meeting the standards established under the act. I can’t link directly to the file, but if you go to thomas.loc.gov, then click bill status, click on 107th Congress, and search for HR 1, the “CRS Summary” is what you want to look for.
If schools are shown to be “failing,” they must give children the option of transferring to other schools while the state or local school board tries to make improvements. If that doesn’t work, then more harsh measures kick in: redesigning curriculum, replacing staff, reduce the independence of the school to make management decisions, hire a contractor to run the school, extend the school hours, and so on.
These requirements are laid out in Title I of the bill, which also maps out a blueprint for how much in federal aid should be provided to schools over the next ten years. It is worth noting that the bill expected that $18.5 billion would be available in the next year to provide grants to schools that need them the most. The President asked for only $12.4 billion in his actual budget request to carry out the grant funding that is related to the tests – and the sanctions – proscribed by the bill.
No Child Left Behind is my job (I’m an attorney who writes a newsletter on NCLB for education professionals). Full time. It’s a hugely complex, 675-page statute so I can’t go into detail in a single post - but here’s a couple of shortish answers.
Basic structure: if, for several years running, a school fails to make “adequate yearly progress” - IOW, meet target minimum scores on statewide assessments - the school is supposed to enter “corrective action.” That means serious changes to curriculum, perhaps moving administrators out, etc. If “corrective action” isn’t enough, the school must go into “restructuring,” which basically means that the schools is completely reorganized. For example, a large school might be broken up into several smaller schools, as has happened here in New York even prior to NCLB. Similarly, districts that fail to meet target scores on a districtwide-basis for several years running can end up being taken over by the state (among other possible consequences).
Of course, the small problem is that (in general) schools and districts only make AYP if all of the various demographic groups meet the targets (i.e. the major racial groups, poor kids, disabled kids, and “limited English proficient” kids). California administrators are referring to this as “45 ways to fail.” The result? As the target scores increase over the next several years, a huge percentage of the schools and districts will likely end up being identified for corrective action or restructuring.
“Expected?” BWAHAHAHAHA! No one with any experience dealing with Congress “expected” $18.5 billion. All Congress did was set a theoretical maximum it could spend. I’m repeating myself from another thread, but it’s rather like saying that you “authorize” yourself to buy a Jag when you make $25K a year. It’d be nice if you had the money, just like it’d be nice of Congress had an extra $18.5 billion lying around. But Congress knew damn well it didn’t - many, many discretionary spending programs have these maxima attached, and invariably they’re set to be well above what the appropriations will actually be. They’re for P.R. purposes only. Those who favor higher spending love having a high number, because it gives them something to rant about later when inevitably a smaller amount is actually budgeted. Those who favor lower spending don’t really care, because they know they’ll be vilified anyway so they have nothing to lose.
I guarantee you every organization that’s whingeing about Title I allocations understood this game very well. It suits their purposes to play dumb to a gullible public.