Laws & Guidance ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
Memorandum and Guidance on Identifying Schools and School Districts in Need of Improvement or Corrective Action When Moving from Transitional to Final Assessments

MEMORANDUM

DATE: September 2000

TO: State Title I Coordinators

FROM: Mary Jean LeTendre, Director, Compensatory Education Programs

SUBJECT: Identifying schools and school districts in need of improvement or corrective action when moving from transitional to final assessments

Several questions have arisen recently regarding the responsibility of State and local educational agencies (LEAs) to implement the accountability requirements in section 1116 of Title I when moving from a transitional assessment to a final assessment system. As we approach the deadline for implementing final assessment systems, I want to clarify the requirements for conducting an annual review of the progress of Leas and schools served under Title I and identifying them for improvement or corrective action, if warranted.

Under section 1111(b)(2) of Title I, a State must establish a definition of adequate yearly progress, based primarily on the State's final assessment system, that the State will use to measure the progress of its Title I schools and Leas That definition must result in "continuous and substantial yearly improvement of each [LEA] and school sufficient to achieve the goal of all children served under [Title I] meeting the State's proficient and advanced levels of performance..."

Section 1116(a) of Title I requires each LEA receiving Title I funds to use the State final assessment or transitional assessment and any additional local measures to review annually the performance of each school served under Title I. Under section 1116(c), an LEA must identify for school improvement any school that has not made adequate yearly progress or has failed to meet the State's transitional criteria for two consecutive years. An LEA must take corrective action for any school that has been in school improvement for three years. Section 1116(d) contains similar requirements for States to annually review and identify Leas needing improvement.

It is important to note that these provisions require annual review and identification of schools and Leas needing improvement. There is no exception for either not conducting an annual review of the performance of Title I schools and Leas or not identifying them for improvement during the period in which a State is moving from a transitional assessment to a final assessment system. Moreover, these accountability requirements also apply during the transitional period for those States that have not yet completed their final assessment systems.

The following will be added to the Standards, Assessments, and Accountability guidance [www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/standardsassessment/] to clarify this issue.

Q: May an LEA use the State's change in assessment systems as a basis for not identifying schools in need of improvement/corrective action or for terminating such identification?

A: No. Regardless of changing assessment systems, each LEA must review its Title I schools each year under section 1116(a). Based on this annual review, the LEA must identify schools that do not meet the State's definition of adequate yearly progress. If a school has not made adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years, it must be identified for improvement, even if the assessment system changed between those years, thereby changing the basis for identification. Similarly, a school that has been identified for improvement cannot exit school improvement status merely because a different assessment system is used.

Q: How can an LEA identify schools in need of improvement under different assessment systems?

A: Based on its annual review, an LEA must identify schools that do not meet the State's definition of adequate yearly progress, defined in terms of continuous and substantial yearly improvement. Such identification poses a special problem during the first administration of a State’s final assessment system because a school has only a score but no baseline from which to demonstrate growth. In this instance, a State may establish a one-time criterion to identify schools for improvement such as a minimum percent of proficient students, the lowest "x" number of schools, or all schools below a certain score. States with long-standing systems may have developed other acceptable strategies. In the following year, the State would implement its definition of adequate yearly progress based on growth.

Q: When must an LEA take corrective action for a school in school improvement?

A: After providing technical assistance and taking other remediation measures, an LEA may take corrective action at any time for a school that has been identified as needing improvement. However, the LEA must take corrective action for any school that has been in school improvement for three years. The LEA may refrain from taking corrective action for one additional year if the LEA determines that failure to make progress can be attributed to extenuating circumstances. These requirements apply even if the LEA is in a State that has not completed its final assessment system.

The following chart illustrates this requirement under various scenarios.

YEAR 1

YEAR 2

YEAR 3

YEAR 4

YEAR 5

YEAR 6

Identification for School Improvement

In School Improvement

Corrective Action?

Making Adequate Yearly Progress?

 

1

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

2

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

3

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

4

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Out of School

Improvement

5

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Out of School Improvement

6

No

No

Yes

Yes

Out of school improvement

 

In all the scenarios, a school has failed to make adequate progress for two consecutive years and thus has been identified as needing improvement. Once identified for improvement, a school must make adequate progress for at least two out of three years to exit improvement status. Each of the schools in scenarios 1, 2 and 3 did not make adequate progress for two out of three years after being identified as needing improvement. Thus, they did not exit improvement status; rather, they were identified as needing corrective action. If a school has made adequate progress for two of three years, it may exit school improvement like the schools in scenarios 4, 5, and 6. Note that, in scenario 5, the school did not need to make adequate yearly progress in two consecutive years to exit school improvement.

Q: What are an SEA's responsibilities with respect to schools identified as needing improvement?

A: An SEA must make technical assistance available to the schools farthest from meeting the State's student performance standards, if requested by the school or LEA. In addition, if an SEA determines that an LEA has failed to carry out its responsibilities for providing technical assistance and taking corrective action for schools identified as needing improvement, the SEA must take such corrective actions as the SEA deems appropriate and that are consistent with State law. Consistent with its general oversight responsibilities under Title I for ensuring improved student performance and for turning around low-performing schools, an SEA may also intercede in how Leas and schools implement school improvement activities. For example, an SEA may require that schools needing corrective action implement a whole school reform model or obtain technical assistance from an external provider.


Return to Standards, Assessment and Accountability


 
Print this page Printable view Send this page Share this page
Last Modified: 09/15/2004