If schools fail to raise students' math and reading scores by the 2013-14 school year, teachers and principals can expect to lose their jobs.
The federal No Child Left Behind law says that by the 2013-14 school year all students must pass state tests in these subjects - or face stiff consequences.
About half of the states have steady annual goals for increasing the percentage of students passing, or working at their proper grade level.
But the other half set the bar very low early on, and starting about now expect big annual achievement gains, according to a report being released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy.
Schools that don't hit testing benchmarks for two years or longer face consequences that become increasingly stiff each year - from having to transport children to higher-performing schools and paying for tutoring to replacing staff thought to be a part of a school's problems.
Nearly 11,000 schools, or a little more than 10 percent of all public schools - from elementary to high school - have missed their state-set progress goals and are taking corrective steps, according to the Education Department.
That number has been rising slowly and is expected to grow at a faster clip over the next few years.
Attempts to make revisions to the No Child Left Behind failed in Congress this year, and the 2013-14 goal remains in place.
That means, eventually, that even states that expect schools to make gradual gains will find a lot of schools falling short of the 100-percent mark in six years.
However, there is one other way schools can avoid the penalties associated with missing benchmarks under No Child Left Behind: If schools miss annual testing goals but show they have decreased the number of kids failing by 10 percent from the previous year, they can avoid penalties. They also must make progress in another area, often attendance.
Source: The Associated Press