Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The George W. Bush Years: NCLB - Adequate Yearly Progress
NCLB requires states to calculate AYP for whole districts. An unspecified corrective action plan is prescribed for those districts that do not make AYP for two consecutive years.
Given that any school or district can fail to make its AYP goals because of the performance of one subgroup, these sanctions had a widespread impact within three years after enactment. Many schools have been required to allow students to transfer. However, as this requirement is limited to within-district transfers, the options for many students have in reality been constrained. Often other schools in the district have received similar sanctions and, therefore, are not able to accept transfers; those schools that are sanction-free frequently do not have empty seats available for transfers from failing schools.
When coupled with one of the law's best-known requirements-that all states test all students in grades three through eight annually in reading, mathematics, and science as the basis for measuring "adequate yearly progress"-these AYP provisions are at the source of the controversy about the implementation of NCLB, which has grown significantly since its enactment. In contrast, by 2005 many other provisions of the act were being implemented without controversy as continuations of established ESEA programs.