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North Central Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortium

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Understanding the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Mathematics and Science

Quick Key No. 4


Key NCLB Requirements for Mathematics and Science

Annual Student Testing

NCLB requires that states develop and implement annual assessments in mathematics and reading in Grades 3-8 and at least once in Grades 10-12 by the 2005-2006 school year. Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, schools must administer annual tests in science achievement, at least once in Grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12 (No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference).

Assessments conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will help educators examine their state's standards and assessments in comparison with this independent benchmark. NAEP assessments are not substitutes for states' own assessments of mathematics for all students in Grades 3-8. NAEP will conduct:

  • National and state assessments in mathematics at least once every two years in Grades 4 and 8, beginning in the 2002-2003 school year.
  • A national assessment in mathematics in Grade 12 at regular intervals.
  • Optional assessments in additional subjects such as science in Grades 4, 8, and 12.

The cost of state participation in NAEP will be covered by the federal government.

Challenging Academic Content Standards

Challenging content standards in academic subjects will:

  • "Specify what children are expected to know and be able to do"
  • "Contain coherent and rigorous content"
  • "Encourage the teaching of advanced skills" (Title I, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1111 [D]).

Each state is required to develop its own unique academic standards of achievement of what every student must know in the core subjects of reading, mathematics, and science. Those standards will "include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all children" (Title I, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1111 [C]). States will also "develop more rigorous mathematics and science curricula that are aligned with challenging State and local academic content standards and with the standards expected for postsecondary study in engineering, mathematics, and science" (Title II, Part B, Sec. 2201 [a-4]).

State-Defined Proficiency Levels

Challenging student academic achievement standards will include at least three levels of achievement—basic, proficient, and advanced. The NCLB Act specifies them as follows:

  • Advanced and proficient levels to "determine how well children are mastering the material in the State academic content standards."
  • Basic level to "provide complete information about the progress of the lower-achieving children toward mastering the proficient and advanced levels of achievement" (Title I, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1111[D]).
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

The goal is 100 percent proficiency for all students by the year 2014. To achieve that goal, the law requires states to specify and set annual measurable objectives that must rise in equal increments and measure student progress to ensure that all student subgroups—based on poverty, race and ethnicity, disability, and limited English proficiency—are reaching proficiency in reading and mathematics. Annual measurable objectives will be "set separately for the assessments of mathematics and reading" (Title I, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1111 [G]).

Teacher Quality

To ensure teacher quality, "teaching out of field" is no longer acceptable. Title I, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1119 says schools must ensure that every new teacher hired to teach in Title I schools beginning with the 2002-2003 school year is highly qualified. States must ensure that all teachers teaching in core academic subjects of reading, mathematics, and science are highly qualified no later than the end of school year 2005-2006.

Highly qualified teachers will have the necessary subject matter knowledge and teaching skills. States may carry out programs that "establish, expand, or improve alternative routes for State certification" of teachers of mathematics and science, and develop "merit-based performance systems, and strategies that provide differential and bonus pay for teachers in high-need academic subjects such as reading, mathematics, and science and teachers in high-poverty schools and districts" (Title II, Part A, Subpart 1, Section 2113, [c-12]).

Scientifically Based Instruction

Under NCLB, a curriculum must integrate "reliable scientifically based research teaching methods and technology-based methods" to strengthen the core academic program of the school and to measure student progress (Title II, Part B, Sec. 2202).

Technological Literacy and Integration

In the effort to close the achievement gap among students, Title II, Part D aims to help every student cross the digital divide "by ensuring that every student is technologically literate by the time the student finishes the eighth grade." In addition, it encourages effective technology integration into curriculum development and instructional practices.

Key Questions

What are your state's policies for testing students in grades 3-8 in mathematics, and are they inclusive of students who are economically disadvantaged, are from major racial and ethnic groups, have disabilities, or have limited English proficiency?

How will student science achievement in your state be tested beginning in the 2007-2008 school year?

How has your state defined the three levels of student academic achievement: basic, proficient, and advanced? Who was involved in the process?

Has your state determined the criteria and rigor of what constitutes each academic achievement level for bringing all students to proficiency in at least mathematics and reading in 12 years? How will you ensure that the criteria are applied?

How is your school planning to define and comply with AYP requirements? What measures will be used to document and prove "continuous and substantial improvement" of mathematics and science learning of all students, as well as student subgroups?

What indicators are being used to evaluate mathematics and science teacher quality and subject-matter competency? How are the indicator data being collected? How will the data be used to inform practice and policy decisions?

Is your school or district offering substantive, research-based professional development to mathematics and science teachers that is content-based, sustained over time, and intended to improve student achievement?

What measures are in place to ensure that a more rigorous mathematics and science curriculum is developed based on solid scientific research? Is the curriculum aligned with challenging academic content standards? If not, how will this be accomplished?

What is your school's capacity in terms of effective technology integration into mathematics and science curricula and instruction?

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