ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
Guidance on Standards, Assessments, and Accountability
Archived Information


Accountability and Improvement



Introduction

The program improvement provisions of the 1988 law advanced accountability of the former Chapter 1 program by focusing on the outcomes of children in Chapter 1 programs, not just on what happened to Chapter 1 dollars. The new Title I is designed to strengthen the program improvement requirements of the 1988 law and ensure even greater school and district accountability for high performance of their students. It does this in a number of ways:

  • First, as described above, linking Title I accountability to the challenging State standards and assessments that apply to all children in a State is the major strategy to promote high expectations for all children and a culture of accountability and improvement for all Federal programs.
  • Second, consequences are attached to institutional performance. Under Title I, States are called on to establish, publicize, and implement a framework for rewarding the continued success of schools and districts, and for taking corrective actions for continuous failure to make adequate progress.
  • Third, Title I establishes, for the first time, that LEAs will also be held accountable for their performance. Like schools, districts may be rewarded for performance gains of their Title I schools and be subject to sanctions by their States for continuous low performance. Districts are included in Title I accountability because they are a critical link in the Title I chain. Title I effectively recasts the role of the district from one that is compliance-oriented to quality-oriented,from a "command and control" to a "support and suggest" perspective. Whether a district effectively carries out its new roles will significantly affect the ability of Title I schools to enable all students to make progress toward meeting challenging State standards.

  • Finally, in another significant development from the former Chapter 1 law, accountability under Title I emphasizes what is happening in schools receiving Title I funds, i.e., whether they are making adequate progress toward enabling their children to meet the State standards, rather than solely emphasizing the Title I program itself or even the yearly performance gains of every child on a norm-referenced standardized test.

Focusing an accountability system on schools is driven by the belief that as long as schools understand their responsibility to serve every child and expect every child to learn, a strategy for improving schools can most effectively lift the achievement levels of all children. Moreover, when Title I is an integral part of, rather than an add-on to, the child's education, the impact of the Title I program cannot be separated from that of the regular program. This integration is particularly true as an increasing number of Title I schools use Title I funds to develop schoolwide programs. Thus, the question that needs answering is what is happening in schools with large enrollments of poor children.

It is important to recognize that this approach to school, district, and State accountability is integrally connected to a formative evaluation process, where assessment results are used to help promote improved teaching and learning in all Title I schools and to encourage the provision of learning experiences that contribute to the attainment of challenging State standards.

Ultimately, the most effective accountability strategy relies on those closest to children, that is, teachers and parents, having the authority, information, and training, and assuming the responsibility to intervene on an ongoing basis to improve teaching and learning. This strategy is not driven by external rewards and sanctions, but depends on such mechanisms as clear and high standards, professional development and technical assistance, greater school-level decision-making, stronger parental involvement and parent-school compacts, and ongoing information about school and student performance. These mechanisms are built in throughout the ESEA and are designed to help create the conditions for self-generated accountability and ongoing school improvement to enable all children to achieve to challenging State standards.


Statute and Regulations

(Sections 1116; and Sections 200.5 and 200.6)

School Level Improvement during Final Assessment

Local Review

Each LEA receiving Title I funds shall review annually the progress of each school served under Title I to determine whether the school is meeting or making adequate progress toward enabling its students to meet the State's student performance standards described in the State plan.

An LEA may review a targeted assistance school on the progress of only those students who have been or are being served by Title I.

In conducting its review, an LEA shall:

  • use the State assessments described in the State plan; and use any additional measures or indicators described in the LEA's plan;
  • if the State assessments are not conducted in a Title I school, an LEA must use other appropriate measures or indicators to review the school's progress; and
  • disaggregate the results of the review by gender, by each major racial and ethnic group, English proficiency status; migrant status, students with disabilities as compared to students without disabilities; and economically disadvantaged students as compared to students who are not economically disadvantaged; seek to produce in schoolwide program schools statistically sound results for each category through the use of over sampling or other means; and report disaggregated data to the public only when those data are statistically sound.

The LEA shall:

  • publicize and disseminate to parents, teachers and other staff, students, the community and administrators, including principals, the results of the annual review of all schools in individual school performance profiles; and
  • provide the results of the annual review to schools, so that they can continually refine the program of instruction to help all participating children meet the State's student performance standards.

Schools in Need of Improvement:

An LEA shall identify for school improvement any school served under Title I that:

  • was in Chapter 1 program improvement under section 1020 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for at least two consecutive years prior to the 1995-96 school year;
  • has not made adequate progress toward meeting the State standards for two consecutive years unless almost every student in such school is meeting the State's advanced level of performance; or
  • is failing to meet the criteria the State has adopted through its transitional accountability mechanism for two consecutive years.

Before identifying a school as needing improvement, an LEA must provide the school with an opportunity to review the data, including assessment data, on which such identification is based. If the school believes that its identification for school improvement is in error for statistical or other substantive reasons, the school may provide evidence to the LEA to support its belief.

Each school identified as needing improvement must:

  • develop or revise its school plan in consultation with parents, the LEA, and its school support team, in ways that have the greatest likelihood of improving the performance of participating children in meeting the State's student performance standards;
  • submit its new or revised plan to the LEA for approval; and
  • implement the changes in its school plan during the first year immediately following identification.

Each school identified must, as part of its school plan, improve the skills of its staff by providing effective professional development activities. A school must:

  • devote to professional development activities, over two consecutive years, an amount equivalent to at least 10 percent of the funds received by the school under Title I, Part A during one fiscal year; or
  • otherwise demonstrate that the school is effectively carrying out professional development activities.

A school may use funds from any source to meet this requirement.

Decisions about how to use the funds that the school makes available for professional development must be made by teachers, principals, and other school staff in that school.

For each school identified, the LEA (and SEA if requested) shall make available technical assistance or other assistance as the school develops and implements the school's new or revised plan, such as a joint plan between the LEA and the school that addresses specific elements of student performance problems, specifies school and LEA responsibilities under the plan, and includes waivers or modifications of requirements of LEA policy or regulation that impede the ability of the school to educate students.

Such technical assistance may be provided directly by the LEA, through mechanisms authorized under Section 1117 for State assistance and school support and improvement, or with the LEA's approval, by an institution of higher education, a private non-profit organization, an educational service agency, a comprehensive regional assistance center, or other entities.

After providing technical assistance, and taking other remediation measures, an LEA may take corrective action, at any time, against a school identified for improvement, but, during the third year following identification, must take such action against any school that still fails to make adequate progress.

Corrective actions must be consistent with State and local law, and disseminated to the public by the LEA.

Corrective actions may include such actions as withholding funds; interagency collaborative agreements between the school and other public agencies to provide health, counseling, and other social services; revoking authority for a school to operate a schoolwide program; decreasing decision-making authority; making alternative governance arrangements such as the creation of a public charter school; reconstituting the school staff; and authorizing students to transfer, including transportation costs, to other public schools served by the LEA.

LEAs may not impose some of these corrective actions under Title I's authority (withholding funds, revoking authority for a school to operate a schoolwide program, decreasing decision-making authority, reconstituting the school staff, or authorizing students to transfer, including transportation costs, to other public schools served by the LEA) until the State has developed an assessment system that is consistent with widely recognized professional and technical standards including validity and reliability.

LEAs may refrain from taking corrective action for one additional year if the failure can be attributed to extenuating circumstances, such as sudden and significantly reduced Federal funding in a single year, as determined by the LEA.

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. If the SEA determines that an LEA has failed to carry out its responsibilities with respect to technical assistance or corrective action, the SEA must take corrective actions it deems appropriate, consistent with State law.

Schools no longer need to be identified for school improvement if they make adequate progress toward meeting the State's proficient and advanced levels of performance for two of the three years following identification.

Distinguished Schools

Each State shall designate as a distinguished school any school served under Title I that has exceeded the State's definition of adequate progress for three consecutive years, and any school in which:

  • virtually all students have met the State's advanced level of student performance; and
  • equity in the school's program in terms of participation and achievement of students by sex has been achieved or significantly improved.

Distinguished schools may serve as models and provide support to other schools, especially schoolwide programs and schools in school improvement, to assist such schools in meeting the State's student performance standards.

A State shall use funds reserved under Title I to allow distinguished schools to serve as models and provide support to other schools and may use such funds to provide awards to such schools to further a school's education programs, provide additional incentives for continued success, and reward individuals or groups in the school for exemplary performance.

An LEA may also recognize the success of a distinguished school by providing additional institutional and individual rewards, such as greater decision-making authority at the school-building level, increased access to resources or supplemental services such as summer programs that may be used to sustain or increase success, additional professional development opportunities, opportunities to participate in special projects, and individual financial bonuses.

Local Educational Agency Improvement

State Review

Each State shall annually review the progress of each LEA receiving Title I funds to determine whether the schools receiving assistance are making adequate progress toward enabling their students to meet the State's student performance standards described in the State plan.

An SEA may review the progress of the schools served by an LEA only for those students who have been or are being served in Title I. In conducting its review, an SEA shall:

  • Disaggregate the results of the review;
  • Consider other indicators, if applicable; and
  • Report disaggregated data to the public only when those data are statistically sound.

    The SEA shall publicize and disseminate to LEAs, teachers, and other staff, parents, students, the community, and administrators, including principals, the results of the State review.

    LEAs in Need of Improvement

    Through the annual reviews, the SEA must identify for improvement any LEA not making adequate progress in its Title I schools toward meeting the State student performance standards for two consecutive years. If the State has adopted a transitional assessment system, it must identify LEAs that are failing to meet the criteria the State has adopted through its transitional accountability procedures for two consecutive years.

    Before identifying an LEA for improvement, the SEA shall provide the LEA with an opportunity to review the school-level data, including assessment data, on which the identification is based. If the LEA believes the identification is in error due to statistical or other substantive reasons, the LEA may provide evidence to the SEA to support its belief.

    Each LEA identified for improvement shall, in consultation with schools, parents, and educational experts, revise its LEA plan under Section 1112 in ways that have the greatest likelihood of improving the performance of its Title I schools in meeting the State's student performance standards.

    Such revision shall include determining why the LEA's plan failed to bring about increased achievement, and may include reviewing the LEA's plan in the context of strategies developed by the State under Goals 2000.

    The SEA must provide technical assistance or other assistance, if requested, to the LEA.

    Technical or other assistance may be provided by the SEA directly, or by an institution of higher education, a private nonprofit organization, an educational service agency or other local consortium, a technical assistance center, or other entities with experience in assisting LEAs improve achievement.

    After providing technical assistance and taking other remediation measures, the SEA may take corrective actions at any time against an LEA that has been identified but, during the fourth year following identification, shall take such action against any LEA that still fails to make adequate progress.

    Corrective actions include actions, consistent with State law, such as the withholding of funds; reconstitution of school district personnel; removal of particular schools from the jurisdiction of the LEA and establishment of alternative arrangements for public governance and supervision of such schools; appointment by the SEA of a receiver or trustee to administer the affairs of the LEA in place of the superintendent and school board; the abolition or restructuring of the LEA; the authorization of students to transfer from a school operated by one LEA to a school operated by another LEA; and a joint plan between the State and the LEA that addresses specific elements of student performance problems and that specifies State and local responsibilities under the plan.

    An SEA may refrain from taking corrective action if failure can be attributed to extenuating circumstances, as determined by the Secretary.

    The SEA may not take some of the corrective actions (withholding of funds; reconstitution of school district personnel; and removal of particular schools from the jurisdiction of the LEA) until the State has developed a final assessment system.

    The SEA may make institutional and individual rewards to LEAs that exceed the State's definition of adequate progress for three consecutive years.

    LEAs no longer need to be identified for improvement if they make adequate progress for two of the three years following identification.

    School and LEA Accountability
    Timeline of the Improvement Process

      Schools already in program improvement for two consecutive years prior to 1995-96 school year All other schools Districts
    Year 1 Technical assistance and optional corrective actions Failure to make adequate progress Failure to make adequate progress
    Year 2 No action No action No action
    Year 3 Required corrective actions for schools still failing to make adequate progress

    Identification of school.

    Technical assistance and optional corrective actions

    Identification of district.

    Technical assistance and optional corrective actions

    Year 4 No action No action No action
    Year 5 No action Required corrective actions against schools still failing to make adequate progress No action
    Year 6 No action No action Required corrective actions against districts still failing to make adequate progress

Questions and Answers

97. If a State assesses all students in five core academic subjects and holds schools and LEAs responsible for these subjects, must all subjects be used for Title I accountability purposes?

For Title I accountability purposes at least mathematics and reading/language arts must be included, although States may choose to add any additional subjects.

98. If none of the grades in a school are directly assessed by the State assessment system, how may schools served under Title I define school progress?

Annual school progress may be determined on the basis of those students assessed and tracked back to the school building in which they were served. An aggregate of the grade assessed may be generated to project a performance level defined by the State. An LEA may wish to propose additional assessments in its LEA plan for those buildings not served by the State assessment.

99. What is the procedure for identifying LEAs and schools in need of improvement during the transition period?

During the transition period, a State must have a procedure for identifying LEAs and schools in need of improvement. This procedure must rely on accurate information about the continuous and substantial yearly academic progress of each LEA and school. Although many States may still tie this procedure to a definition of adequate yearly progress, they are not required to do so. Since States may not have content or performance standards and aligned assessments, it may be necessary to use different types of procedures to judge whether LEAs and schools are in need of improvement.

During this developmental period, using broad-based consultation, States must set challenging goals for all students. In this changing environment, it is especially important that the criteria for identifying LEAs and schools for improvement are understood by school administrators, teachers, parents, and students in order to make the process useful in terms of improving teaching and learning in the districts and schools.

100. If a student has attended a school for a short period of time, must the performance of that student be used in determining the progress of the LEA?

If a student has not attended a single school for a full academic year, the performance of that student does not have to be used in determining the progress of that school; however, if the student has attended schools in a single LEA, then that student's progress must be used in determining the progress of that LEA.

101. If an LEA identifies a school for improvement and the school believes the identification is in error, is there anything the school can do to reverse the decision?

Yes. Before identifying a school for school improvement, the LEA shall provide the school with an opportunity to review the school-level data including assessment data, on which such identification is based. If the school believes that such identification for school improvement is in error for statistical or other substantive reasons, the school may provide evidence to the LEA to support that belief.


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Last Modified: 04/02/2009