Controversy of the Adequate Yearly Progress

Schools across the country have restructured according to standards dictated by the federal government, rather than local needs. A principal of one such school remarked, "Putting all of the neediest special education students in a few schools seems to create insoluble challenges under No Child Left Behind." Those determinations often come down to the performance of small numbers of students that do not reflect the progress of the whole school. As of 2006, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which performs math and reading assessments of national education systems, does not include special education students as a significant portion of their assessment population.

Criticisms are being met with a series of innovations on the state level. In 2007, the top official of the Ohio Department of Education diagnosed that NCLB "paid no attention to whether students below proficient were making strides, or (those) above proficiency." Ohio is proposing a more subtle "growth model" that would allow schools to better demonstrate progress without jeopardizing past academic accomplishments.

Another controversial concern of NCLB is that it produces unintended consequences on other school subjects. Since AYP is based mostly on standardized state testing on the subjects of math and reading, it is believed that this may cause schools to neglect other subjects. Also, NCLB is thought to provide teachers with the motive to focus energy in the classroom towards the types of questions that students will face on proficiency-based tests as opposed to other questions and topics that should be addressed equally.

The New York State Department of Education is among a group of state education agencies that have voiced support for AYP.