ESEA Requirements and State Flexibility

Father and childrenESEA sets requirements that all states are required to follow in determining whether schools make AYP. They include annual assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics; annual targets toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2013–14; accountability for raising performance in both subject areas by the school overall and by four subgroups (economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency); improved performance on an additional academic indicator chosen by the state to rate schools at the elementary and middle school level; improvement on graduation rates for high schools; and a 95 percent participation rate on the state tests.

States are provided flexibility to, among other things, develop content standards and each assessment; choose the additional academic performance indicator for the elementary and middle grades, such as the school attendance rate, and determine the amount of progress required on this indicator each year; determine the level of performance on state tests by a student to be considered “proficient”; and set annual proficiency targets consistent with the goal of reaching 100 percent proficiency by 2013–2014.

States also are required to test students in science at least once in grades 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12, but schools are not held accountable in AYP for these results. State content standards and assessments are reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to ensure they are aligned and that they produce valid and reliable results.