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Considerations for States
State departments of education have been given an essential role in establishing effective supplemental educational services under No Child Left Behind. Chief among their responsibilities are soliciting, screening, and approving a broad array of SES providers and implementing a system for then monitoring the quality and effectiveness of the services offered by those providers. In addition to these direct responsibilities, state departments have an implied duty to support districts striving to meet both the letter and the spirit of SES provisions.
Meet District Data Needs
States need to provide districts accurate and timely data on school eligibility and on which providers have met state requirements to supply SES services to students.
Provide School and Student Data
Although schools can anticipate certain aspects of their improvement status (e.g., once they have missed AYP two years running and have had to offer school choice, they may need to offer SES the following year), they rely on states for ongoing information about their improvement status. States should release provisional improvement lists as soon as possible following administration of the state assessment, minimally before the beginning of the next school year. They should also expedite their appeals process.
Supply Approved Provider Lists
To grow their provider list, states may want to maintain a rolling provider-application deadline, while keeping in mind districts' need to inform parents of their SES choices in a timely fashion. States are required to give school districts updated lists of approved providers in their "general geographic locations." To be as helpful as possible to districts whose job it is to inform parents about their SES choices, states should also consider soliciting and sharing additional provider information. In addition to more specificity about where providers are willing or able to work (e.g., statewide, only in certain regions or cities), state agencies may also share more detail about each provider's evidence of effectiveness and type of service offered (e.g., one-on-one tutoring, small group instruction, any content specialties, grade level served, any set locations of service, ability to serve special populations). Most states maintain a Web site with up-to-date provider information.
States should also consider ways to attract a diverse pool of providers to serve their SES-eligible students. By reaching out to entities across the state, including faith- and community-based organizations, charter and private schools, universities, and others, states can better ensure a large and diverse pool of providers. In the same vein, states may want to consider holding technical assistance workshops to help potential providers apply.
Monitor Districts' SES Implementation
States should consider how they will monitor district implementation of SES. At a minimum, they should include SES as part of their overall Title I monitoring plan. Additionally, to support effective SES programs, states might consider offering their LEAs a model provider contract and a model letter to parents. States should also be prepared to address any SES implementation concerns brought to their attention by parents, community groups, providers, or others with interest in ensuring successful SES programs.
Move Forward on Provider Evaluation Efforts
Under NCLB, state educational agencies are responsible for monitoring the quality and effectiveness of SES providers and should move quickly to initiate the process if they have not already done so. In developing their evaluation systems and indicators, states may want to survey local districts, many of which have already begun collecting data on provider effects by such means as monitoring individual student learning plans, surveying parents, and administering uniform benchmark assessments. To strengthen their provider monitoring and evaluation efforts, states may also want to enlist one of their universities as a partner or collaborate with neighboring states. One state requires all providers to assess their students using a pre-test and a post-test. Although providers can choose their own assessment tool, they must document how the assessment is aligned to the state standards. This same state has developed and is about to implement a statewide, Web-based SES student tracking and reporting system through which providers can record student enrollment, attendance, and progress. As incentive for providers to use the system, it also includes an invoicing function for providers. Once the system is integrated into the state's overall student data system, the SEA will be able to look at student progress in supplemental services in the context of other information about students' overall school experience and achievement. In conjunction with this electronic system, however, the state intends to continue face-to-face provider reviews to make sure services reflect what the SES provider has committed to providing.
Outreach to Parents
States may want to begin outreach campaigns tolet parents know about SES and their child's eligibility. State-level outreach might include conferences, public service announcements, printed materials, and other communication.
Collaborate With Other States
As noted above, states can profit from working with one another or informing each other on any number of SES-related issues, such as discussing how to refine their provider screening processes or identifying longitudinal measures of student progress under SES. Inter-state sharing of information could be an important first step in finding efficient solutions that build on others' lessons learned.
Encourage District Collaboration
Similarly, states should encourage cross-district collaboration and sharing of SES experiences and strategies. Neighboring districts or districts with similar demographics often face common challenges (e.g., rural districts may face similar transportation issues or have difficulty attracting any service providers) and could benefit from hearing each other's strategies or, in some instances, from approaching common problems collaboratively.