States began measuring student achievement with annual assessments after President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, a re-authorization of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

The latter remains the most far-reaching federal legislation affecting education ever passed by Congress, intended to address achievement gaps with funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families.

In 1998, the federal government began the Comprehensive School Reform program, providing financial incentives for schools to develop comprehensive reforms based on improving basic academics and parental involvement, so students could meet state academic content and achievement standards.

Of the 7,000 lowest-achieving schools that received money for turnaround efforts, 15 percent showed dramatic improvement.

The program was reworked in 2007 to School Improvement Grants to help low-performing schools pay for, among other things, professional development for teachers, literacy coaches for students and targeted intervention programs for students in math and reading.

President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Race to the Top) of 2009 supplied $3.5 billion to the U.S. Department of Education to fund school turnaround efforts.

The federal programs also have spawned initiatives at the local, state and national levels to improve education for all students. But more than a dozen years after No Child Left Behind, the country's leaders are still facing challenges to reform and strengthen America's public education system.