Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

ESEA is the largest source of federal spending on primary and secondary education. President Lyndon B. Johnson originally signed it more than 50 years ago in 1965 to represent the federal government's new commitment to equal and quality education for all. ESEA emphasizes equal access to education for all students, additional resources for vulnerable students, encourages high standards for academic achievement from students, teachers, administrators, and parents, and demands accountability from schools. ESEA offers grants to underserved districts, federal grants for textbooks and special education centers, as well as scholarships for low-income college students. Now that more than 50 years have gone by, ESEA is up for reauthorization to ensure that the federal government continues to invest in education; students, teachers, and administrators remain committed to equal and quality education; and that achievement gaps continue to close.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

NCLB came out in 2001 and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. It is the most recent reauthorization of ESEA, which includes Title I. NCLB exposed achievement gaps and created a national dialogue on the importance of closing them. It promoted accountability for all children to succeed and required transparency. NCLB also had many flaws. It emphasized lowering standards, punishing failure over rewarding success, focused on test scores rather than growth, and created one-size-fits-all interventions for schools. In 2012 the Obama Administration offered some flexibility to states under the law. States had to prove that they were adopting and implementing components from NCLB and had to continue to be transparent about their progress.

Make Your Voice Heard

Congress will soon from a Conference Committee to engage in the final round of negotiations over the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Urge your members of Congress to support key NASP policy priorities that will help ensure safe and successful learning environments for all students. 

Related Resources

ESEA Table of Contents
All sections of ESEA provided by the U.S. Department of Education

NCLB Table of Contents
All sections of NCLB provided by the U.S. Department of Education

Title I Regulations
The final regulations to strengthen and clarify NCLB, released in 2008, provided by the U.S. Department of Education