The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) relied on two notable policy instruments to improve education: accountability and flexibility. Accountability is perhaps the most recognized and discussed feature of the legislation. As a strategy for improving education, it calls for establishing challenging standards of performance, developing rigorous and scientifically based systems for monitoring progress toward attaining these standards, and introducing meaningful consequences for schools that consistently fail to make satisfactory progress. NCLB not only maintains but also strengthens federal commitments to this approach as an important driver of reform.
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