IDEA and the No Child Left Behind Act

The Congress has passed the “No Child Left Behind Act” (“Act”) – legislation that promises sweeping changes in the U.S. Public Education System. In what ways will this legislation affect IDEA?

For each relevant section of the Act, this Memo will present each provision of the Act, followed in italics by how the provision is related to IDEA.

I. State Plans

Under Section 1111- State Plans, for any state seeking a grant under this part of the Act, the state educational agency must submit a plan to the Secretary of Education.


Each state plan shall demonstrate that the state has developed and is implementing a single, state-wide state accountability system “that will be effective in ensuring that all local educational agencies, public elementary schools, and public secondary schools make adequate yearly progress as defined under this paragraph.


The state plan described above must be coordinated with IDEA. For example, IDEA personnel should be involved in the development of the state’s Title 1 Plan.

II. “Progress” Defined


In showing adequate yearly progress, the report must include graduation rates and each state shall establish a timeline for adequate yearly progress. Each state is also required to establish statewide annual measurable objectives.


The adequate yearly progress must include the achievement of students with disabilities. Individuals experienced with special education programming should be included in discussions and planning for state’s accountability system.

III. Proficiency


Annual improvement for schools – for a school to make adequate yearly progress under the Act, each group of students must meet or exceed the objectives set by the state. Also not less than 95% of each group of students who are enrolled in the school are required to take the assessments and with accommodations, guidelines, and alternative assessments provided in the same manner as those provided in IDEA.


The state plan must show graduation rates for students with disabilities must also include at least one other academic indicator for students with disabilities. Special education students must meet the state’s proficient level of academic achievement in 12 years. The measurable objectives must include a consideration of students with disabilities, and the state must establish intermediate goals for students with disabilities


IV. State Assessments


Each state plan shall demonstrate that the state educational agency, in consultation with local educational agencies, “has implemented a set of high-quality, yearly student academic assessments that include, at a minimum, academic assessments in mathematics, reading or language arts, and science that will be used as the primary means of determining the yearly performance of the state and each local educational agency and school in the state.”

Annual state report card – not later than the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year, unless the state has received a 1-year extension…, a state that receives assistance under this part shall prepare and disseminate an annual State report card.


The Act requires continuous progress by students with disabilities and these students must meet or exceed the objectives set by the state in its plan. The Act requires 95% of students with disabilities in a school to participate in state assessments with appropriate accommodations or alternative assessments, if required, “unless the number of students with disabilities is insufficient for the 95% requirement to be statistically valid.”

Assessment requirements apply to students with disabilities. Students with disabilities must be assessed in reading and math in grades 3-8 and science must be assessed by the 2007-2008 school year.


V. Teacher Qualifications, Failure to Progress, Transfers


Section 1116. Academic assessment and local educational agency and school improvement. “A local educational agency shall identify for school improvement any elementary school or secondary school…that fails, for two consecutive years, to make adequate yearly progress…in the case of a school identified for school improvement…the local educational agency shall, not later than the first day of the school year following such identification, provide all students enrolled in the school with the option to transfer to another public school served by the local educational agency. In the case of any school that fails to make adequate yearly progress, as set out in the state’s plan, by the end of the first full year after identification, the local educational agency shall continue to provide all students enrolled in the school with the option to transfer to another public school served by the local educational agency. If after one full school year of corrective action, a school subject to this corrective action continues to fail to make adequate yearly progress, then the local educational agency shall…not later than the beginning of the school year following the year in which this restructuring shall take place, “the local educational agency shall implement one of the following alternative governments arrangements for the school consistent with state law:

1. Reopening the school as apublic charter school.

2. Replacing all or most of the staff who are relevant to the failure to make adequate yearly progress.

3. Entering into a contract with an entity such as private management company…to operate the public school.

4. Turning the operation of the school over to the state educational agency, if permitted under state law and agreed to by the state.


Information required on State report cards must include professional qualifications of special education teachers and the local educational agency report cards will reflect achievement of students with disabilities.

VI. Migratory Students


Section 1306. Comprehensive needs assessment and service – delivery plan; authorized activities. Each state that receives assistance under this Act shall ensure that the state in its local operating agencies identify and address the special education needs of migratory children in accordance with a comprehensive state plan.

Section 1308. Coordination of migrant education activities… (b) Student Records. The Secretary Of Education, in consultation with the states, “shall ensure the linkage of migrant student record systems for the purpose of electronically exchanging, among the states, health and educational information regarding all migratory students.”



The Department of Education has not indicated how this structure affects the students with an IEP. For example, it is not clear what procedures must be followed if a parent wishes to transfer to another public school a student with an IEP. It is also not clear if the local educational agency must establish a program to meet the student’s needs in another school, if the program is not already in place in the school where the child is placed.

It is unclear as to whether the local educational agency in this instance is obligated to send the student to a private school or out of the district public school placement. It is also not clear which local educational agency would be responsible for implementing the IEP if a student transfers from a failing school to another local education agency, unless the IEP teams meets to approve the change placement.

The state plan must address special education needs of migratory children, including their need for special education services.

Transferring of student records must include special education records.

VII. Incarcerated Youth


Section 1425. Program requirements for correctional facilities receiving funds under this section.

Part E – National Assessment of Title 1. Section 1503. Assessment evaluation. The Secretary of Education shall conduct an independent study of assessments used for state accountability purposes and for making decisions about the promotion and graduation of students.


Special education services must be provided to eligible incarcerated youth. Each correctional facility entering into an agreement with a local educational agency to provide services to children and youth shall (1) where feasible, ensure that educational programs in the correctional facility are coordinated with the student’s home school particularly with respect to a student with an IEP; (2) if the child or youth is identified as in need of special education services while in the correctional facility, this facility must notify the local school of the child or youth of such need.

VIII. Report to Congress


Title IV – 21st century schools. Part A – safe and drug free schools and communities. Section 4002. The purpose of this Part “is to support programs that prevent violence in and around schools, that prevent the illegal use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs: that involve parents and communities: and that are coordinated with related Federal, State, school and communities efforts and resources to foster a safe and drug-free learning environment that supports student academic achievement…


An interim report is due to Congress three years after a contract is awarded and must include an assessment of the impact of academic assessments on students with disabilities.

IX. Safety/Planning Issues


Section 4141 – gun possession. Gun-free requirements. Each state receiving federal funds under the Act “shall have in effect a state law requiring local educational agencies to expel from school for a period of not less than one year a student who is determined to have brought a firearm to a school, or to have possessed a firearm at a school, under the jurisdiction of local educational agencies in that State, except that such state law shall allow the chief administering officer of a local educational agency to modify such expulsion requirement for a student on a case-by-case basis if such modification is in writing. (Note here possible IDEA conflict!)


It should be noted that special education personnel are not included in a list of individuals and entities that state educational agencies are required to consult in the planning of a grant application, even though special education students may be at-risk.