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April 25, 2008 ED Review
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 April 25, 2008
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NCLB Update
25 Years Later
Student Loan Access
Parent Expectations and Planning
Beating the Odds
White House Summit
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

NCLB Update

On April 22, in Detroit, Michigan, Secretary Spellings proposed new regulations to clarify and strengthen Title I of the No Child Left Behind Act. "I'm proposing new policy tools that will give families lifelines and empower educators to create dramatic improvement," she explained. "Many are actions that have gained broad support through conversation on how to strengthen NCLB. While I will continue working with legislators to renew this law, I also realize that students and families and teachers and schools need help now. So, at the President's request, I'm moving forward to empower educators to take actions that families have been waiting for." The proposed regulations focus on improved accountability and transparency, uniform and disaggregated graduation rates, and improved implementation of public school choice and supplemental educational services (SES).

Improved Accountability and Transparency

  • Assessments and Multiple Measures. There is a misunderstanding that accountability must be based on a single measure or form of assessment. The proposed regulation clarifies states may use one test or several tests (e.g., reading and writing assessments to measure reading/language arts) and may use one format or multiple formats (e.g., multiple choice, extended response, etc.).
  • Strengthening State Assessment and Accountability Systems. The proposed regulation requires the Secretary to create a National Technical Advisory Council (NTAC). The council will not review individual state plans but, instead, focus on technically complex issues that affect a number of states.
  • Minimum Subgroup Size and Including Students in Accountability. Currently, there are many students and subgroups of students excluded from Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) calculations. The proposed regulation requires states to explain how the minimum subgroup size (N-size) and other components of their AYP definition (e.g., confidence intervals, performance indexes, definitions of "full academic year," etc.) combine to supply statistically reliable information. States would be required to ensure the maximum number of students are included in AYP calculations. States would also be required to report the number and percentage of students excluded from AYP calculations. The Department will work with the NTAC on guidelines by which states will be peer reviewed.
  • Including NAEP Data on Report Cards. The proposed regulation requires states and school districts to report the most recent results from state National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and math tests on the same public report card they use to report state assessments.
  • Including Individual Student Growth in AYP. The proposed regulation sets the key criteria that states must meet in order to receive authority (under a flexibility agreement) to incorporate individual student academic progress in their definitions of AYP. The criteria closely adhere to those established in the growth model pilot program.
  • Identifying Schools for Improvement. The proposed regulation codifies current Department policy that districts may identify schools and districts in need of improvement on the basis of not meeting annual measurable objectives (AMOs) in the same subject over consecutive years. On the other hand, districts may not limit identification to those schools that do not meet AMOs in the same subject for the same subgroup over consecutive years.
  • Restructuring. Preliminary analysis of Department data from 36 states indicates that only 18% of schools that were identified for restructuring in 2004-05 or 2005-06 have exited restructuring status. The proposed regulation requires: interventions implemented as part of a restructuring plan must be more rigorous and comprehensive than those implemented as part of the earlier correction action plan; districts must implement strategies that address the reasons a school is in restructuring; and, when replacing school staff, districts may also replace the principal, although replacing the principal, alone, would not be sufficient to constitute restructuring.

Uniform and Disaggregated Graduation Rates

  • Uniform Definition. Today, states have latitude in determining how graduation rates are calculated. To raise expectations and hold schools, districts, and states accountable, the proposed regulation requires all states implement a cohort graduation rate, consistent with the definition agreed to by the National Governors' Association (NGA), by the 2012-13 school year. With limited exceptions, the graduation rate would be defined as the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular diploma divided by the number of students who entered four years earlier, adjusting for student transfers. In the interim, states that do not yet have a system to accurately track transfers or four years of data available will be required to use the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR).
  • Establishing Goals. To make AYP, most states expect schools to make only a small amount of improvement from one year to the next or meet very low graduation rate goals. The proposed regulation requires states to (1) set a goal that represents the rate they expect all high schools to meet and (2) define how schools and districts may demonstrate "continuous and substantial improvement."
  • Disaggregating Data. Data shows large disparities in the graduation rates of subgroups. The proposed regulation requires disaggregated graduation rates to be taken into account in AYP calculations. No later than 2012-13 (when all states must use the cohort graduation rate), states would be required to disaggregate the data by subgroup at the school, district, and state level for reporting and calculating AYP. Prior to 2012-13, states would be required to disaggregate the data at all levels for reporting, but disaggregated AYP calculations would be made only at the district and state level.

Improved Implementation of Public School Choice and SES

  • School Choice Notification. In 2006-07, participation in public school choice was only 2.2% of eligible students. Parents who are notified of their options well before the start of the school year are more likely to enroll their child in a different school, yet only 29% of the districts that were required to offer choice notified parents before the start of the school year. The proposed regulation clarifies districts must alert parents about their option to transfer their child and their available schools choices sufficiently in advance of—but no later than 14 days before—the start of the school year.
  • SES Notification. In 2004-05, 94% of the districts that were required to offer SES reported sending parents written notification materials regarding their options, yet, in a survey of eligible parents across eight districts, only 53% said they had been notified. The proposed regulation requires notices explain the benefits of receiving SES, be "clear and concise," and be distinguishable from other information.
  • Posting Information on the Web. The proposed regulation requires districts to prominently display the following information on the district's web site: the number of students who were eligible for and the number of students who participated in choice and SES; a list of schools that are available to students eligible to participate in choice; and a list of SES providers approved by the state to serve the district and the locations where services are offered.
  • State Monitoring of Districts' Implementation of SES. States have always monitored districts, but the proposed regulation requires states to develop, execute, and report on the standards and techniques for how they monitor their districts' implementation of SES.
  • Provider Approval Process. The proposed regulation clarifies that, to be approved as a provider, an entity must provide the state with evidence that the instruction it would provide is aligned with the state's academic content and achievement standards and is "research-based." States would also be required, at a minimum, to consider: information from the provider on whether it has been removed from any states' approved list; parent recommendations or results from parental surveys, if any, regarding the success of the provider's program in increasing student achievement; and any evaluation results demonstrating that the instructional program has improved student achievement.
  • State Monitoring of Provider Effectiveness. When monitoring the quality of an approved provider, the proposed regulation specifies states must consider, at a minimum, evidence that the provider's instructional program: is consistent with content and instruction used by the district and the state; addresses students' individual needs as described in students' SES plans; has contributed to increasing students' academic proficiency; and is aligned with the state's academic content and achievement standards. As with provider approval, states would also be required to consider parent recommendations, results from parental surveys, and other evaluation results demonstrating the success of the provider's instructional program in improving student achievement, if any.
  • Costs for Parent Outreach. The proposed regulation allows a district to count the costs of providing parent outreach and assistance toward meeting the obligation of spending an amount equal to 20% of the district's Title I, Part A funding on choice-related transportation and SES. The actual amount that could be counted would be capped at 1% of that 20% obligation.
  • Maximizing Funds for School Choice and SES. Currently, unspent choice and SES funds may be reallocated for other purposes. Before reallocating any unused funds, the proposed regulation requires districts to supply satisfactory evidence to the state that it has demonstrated success in: partnering with community-based organizations to inform students and parents of choice and SES options; ensuring students and their parents have had a genuine opportunity to participate (e.g., by providing timely and accurate notices; ensuring that sign-up forms are widely available and accessible, as well as have been distributed directly to eligible students and their parents; and allowing eligible students to sign-up to receive SES throughout the school year); and ensuring that providers are given access to school facilities on the same terms as other outside groups.

These proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on April 23 (see http://www.ed.gov/legislation/
FedRegister/other/2008-2/042308a.html
). Comments are due on or before June 23. The Department will also hold four regional meetings to receive comments: on May 14, in Boston; on May 15, in Dunwoody, GA; on May 19, in Kansas City, MO; and on May 22, in Seattle. The Department expects to issue final regulations this fall. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/reg/proposal/.

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25 Years Later

Tomorrow (April 26) is the 25th anniversary of the landmark report, A Nation at Risk. In recognition of "this teachable moment," the Secretary issued a white paper describing "how far we've come, and how far we need to go." Also, online, she is posing various questions related to the state of education in the U.S. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/risk25.html.

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Student Loan Access

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill, H.R. 5715, aimed at ensuring student loans remain available, despite the shaky credit market. The bill would:

  • increase the annual loan limits on federal loans by $2,000 for all students and increase the aggregate loan limits to $31,000 for dependent undergraduates and $57,500 for independent undergraduates;
  • give parents more time to begin paying off their federal PLUS loans by providing them with the option to defer repayment up to six months after their children leave school;
  • make sure that short-term delinquencies in mortgage payments and medical bills do not prohibit otherwise eligible parents from being able to borrow PLUS loans, by temporarily classifying as "extenuating circumstances" delinquencies on home mortgages and medical bills of up to 180 days;
  • affirm that existing law gives the Secretary of Education the authority to advance federal funds to guaranty agencies, in the event that they do not have sufficient capital to originate new loans, and allow guaranty agencies to implement the functions of "lender of last resort" on a school-wide basis; and
  • grant the Secretary the temporary authority to purchase loans from lenders in the federal guaranteed loan program, to make sure lenders continue to have access to capital to originate new loans—albeit only if doing so would not result in a net cost for the federal government.

The Senate has not yet taken up its version of the bill. For more information, please go to http://edlabor.house.gov/micro/loansact.shtml.

Note: In a recent Statement of Administration Policy (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/
sap/110-2/saphr5715-h.pdf
), the White House supports most provisions of the House bill.

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Parent Expectations and Planning

On a related note, a new report from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), "Parent Expectations and Planning for College," examines the educational expectations parents have for their children and the higher education planning practices of families and schools. A sample of sixth- through twelfth-graders were surveyed in early 2003. About nine out of 10 students (91%) had parents who expected them to continue their education beyond high school, while two-thirds (65%) had parents who expected them to earn a bachelor's degree or higher. Among students whose parents expected them to continue their education, 82% had parents who reported that the family was planning on helping to pay their child's higher education costs. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008079.

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Beating the Odds

"Beating the Odds," the Council of the Great City School's eighth annual analysis of state-mandated tests in 67 big city school districts in 37 states, reveals urban systems are continuing to improve in reading and math. Indeed, 60% of students scored proficient or above in fourth-grade reading in 2007 (a gain of nine percentage points from 2003), and 51% were proficient or above in eighth-grade reading (a gain of eight percentage points from 2003). For math, 63% of students scored proficient or above in fourth-grade during 2007 (a gain of 14 percentage points from 2003), while 55% were proficient or above in eighth-grade (a gain of 13 percentage points from 2003). Several urban districts (seven in reading and six in math) had both fourth- and eighth-grade scores equal to or greater than their respective states, and the racial achievement gap between urban systems and their respective states generally declined. For more information, please go to http://www.cgcs.org/publications/achievement.aspx.

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White House Summit

On April 24, President Bush and Secretary Spellings hosted community leaders, educators, and policymakers at a White House Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-Based Schools. The summit underscored the need to preserve educational alternatives for underserved students attending chronically under-performing schools. Despite their successes, faith-based urban schools are disappearing at a high rate. From 2000 to 2006, almost 1,200 faith-based urban schools closed, displacing 425,000 students. For more information, please go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/education/whschoolsummit/.

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Quote to Note

"Twenty-five years ago, in a landmark report, A Nation at Risk, some of America's finest minds warned of the consequences of inaction. They wrote, 'If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it happens, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.' Yet, even today, a quarter of a century later, many of the actions that A Nation at Risk recommended in 1983 continue to be largely ignored. Raising academic standards, making coursework more rigorous, and using classroom time more effectively. These proposals were not unreasonable then, and they're not unreasonable now."

        Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (4/22/08),
proposing new No Child Left Behind regulations

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Upcoming Events

Registration for the Department's Teacher-to-Teacher summer workshops opens April 30. These workshops offer educators a free opportunity to participate in high-quality professional development. For more information, please go to http://www.t2tweb.us/Workshops/Schedule.asp.

May 5-9 is National Charter Schools Week. For more information, please go to http://www.publiccharters.org/content/publication/detail/3936/.

On May 15, in Memphis, the Department's Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and Office of Innovation and Improvement will conduct a regional summit to spotlight educational innovations. The summit is free, but parties must register online in advance of the meeting. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/list/fbci/suppserv-workshops.html.

The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast, on high-performing teachers, is scheduled for May 20 (8:00 p.m. ET). For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/edtv/.

On the heels of the Masters golf tournament, students can nominate or urge their third- through fifth-grade teachers to apply for the 2009 Phil Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, an all-expenses paid camp where teachers learn about math and science through fun activities. For more information, please go to http://www.sendmyteacher.com/.

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Last Modified: 08/06/2008