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At the beginning of his Administration, President George W. Bush focused on public education reform. His first major initiative, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002, was signed into law on January 8, 2002. The legislation had several main goals: holding schools accountable for student performance, increasing flexibility for state and local governments to use federal funds, targeting funding to research-based approaches, and expanding school choice options for parents.

Letter dated February 2001 from Senator Edward M. Kennedy to the recently-inaugurated President regarding bipartisanship in healthcare and education reforms. President George W. Bush and Senator Kennedy worked closely in achieving passage of the No Child Left Behind education reform legislation, signed in January 2002.

No Child Left Behind required states receiving funding under the law to develop challenging academic standards that would apply to all students in the state, and to assess whether the standards were met through regular student testing. Schools had to demonstrate “adequate yearly progress,” and any school that failed to meet standards would be required to develop an improvement plan using research-based strategies.

President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio.
President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio, January 8, 2002. Pictured from left are: Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Republican Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, and Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.

Under No Child Left Behind, districts were required to offer school choice to all students in schools that had failed to meet standards two years in a row, and to provide transportation to students whose parents chose to enroll their children in new schools. Each subsequent year a school failed to meet standards, new requirements were added to help the school correct its course. Eventually, failing schools could be forced to restructure, accept state control, replace staff, or privatize.

No Child Left Behind also allowed states more flexibility in using federal funding, so that each state could choose how to address local needs. The Act included funding for teacher recruitment and training programs, improvement in reading instruction, and allowed Title I funds to be used for supplemental services such as tutoring.

Congress did not reauthorize NCLB and the White House released, in 2007, Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act

Homeboy Industries
First Lady Laura Bush meets members of the Homeboy Industries program in Los Angeles during her tour of the facility April 27, 2005. 

In addition, President Bush increased the size of Pell Grants available to college students to an all-time high and created the Helping America's Youth Initiative. This was led by First Lady Laura Bush to help adults connect with at-risk children. Mrs. Bush also led initiatives for teacher recruitment, reading achievement, such as Ready to Read, Ready to Learn, and global literacy. 


The following carefully selected resources, some of which are from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, provide further information about the Education initiative.

White House Office of Records Management

Archival Research Guide

For a more complete guide of the archival records that are open for research, please download the Archival Research Guide:

Additional Resources

Additional photo essays, Presidential Messages and Statements, press releases, and more from 2001 - 2009 are available through the Archived White House Website.