The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was the previous reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Passed by Congress in 2001 with clear bipartisan support, NCLB was  signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2002. The law greatly increased the federal government's role in education, especially in terms of holding schools accountable for the academic performance of their students.

Although NCLB covers numerous federal education programs, the law’s requirements for testing, accountability, and school improvement received the most attention. NCLB required that states test students annually in both English language arts and mathematics in grades 3-8, as well as once in grades 10-12. States must also test students in science three times: once in the grade span of grades 3-5, again in 6-8, and a final time in 10-12. Individual schools, school districts, and states were required to publicly report test results for all students, as well as for specific student subgroups, including low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, and major racial and ethnic groups.

From the time ESEA was signed into law through the passage of NCLB, Congress reauthorized the legislation every five years. After NCLB passed, however, it remained in place for nearly fourteen years until it was finally replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act in December of 2015.

AYP and School Improvement

Under NCLB, schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress in English language arts and mathematics for two consecutive years were identified for "school improvement."

Parent Notification

Under NCLB, states and local school districts were required to provide parents with annual school report cards describing their student and school performance.

Highly Qualified Teachers

No Child Left Behind required that all teachers be “highly qualified.” To be considered highly qualified, teachers were required to be fully certified by the state, or to have passed the state teacher licensure exam.

ESEA Flexibility and Waivers

In September of 2011, the Obama administration announced it would allow states to request flexibility in meeting some of the requirements under NCLB.

NCLB and Funding Controversy

Under No Child Left Behind, states were required to fulfill extensive accountability requirements to receive funding. These requirements led states to argue, unsuccessfully, that NCLB is an "unfunded mandate."