No Child Left Behind
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) also has some important provisions that may benefit your child. Unlike IDEA or ADA/504, your child does not need a formal diagnosis of a disability in order to gain the protection of this law. The overall purpose of the law is to improve the academic achievement of all students in public schools; the law also puts a high priority on promoting reading achievement.
Rather than focusing on your child's disability, the NCLB essentially provides a mechanism to evaluate the quality of the public school your child attends. If your child's school is designated as “in need of improvement” because of general poor performance of its students on standardized achievement tests for two consecutive years, the district must offer all children in the school the opportunity to attend a different school with a better performance record.
Additionally, students from low-income families who are in schools that have failed to meet state standards for three or more years are eligible to receive supplemental educational services at the expense of the school district. These supplemental services are tutoring programs often given by private providers, including some who may offer reading programs geared to students with dyslexia. Thus, in some cases families may use NCLB to obtain private tutoring that is not being made available via the IEP process.
The higher standards imposed by NCLB may also have an indirect impact on developing IEPs and defining FAPE under IDEA. Your school needs to set IEP goals that will help your child perform within acceptable ranges on standardized tests of achievement in mathematics and science as well as in reading and language arts.
Finally, NCLB requires that the school test all students, including most students receiving special education services, using standardized measures of achievement, and that the results of your child's individual tests be reported to you. In the past, in some schools, special ed children were allowed to lag far behind, due to a remedial curriculum with significantly lowered expectations as to course content or individual achievement. By measuring the schools' progress in part by the ability of its special ed students to meet state curriculum standards, NCLB creates a strong incentive for each school to explore and develop high quality programs for students with learning disabilities. As a parent, you also will have better information about how your child measures up compared to others at his grade level.