Laws & Guidance ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
Identification of Schools for School Improvement

May 7, 2002

Dorothy R. Fair
Title I State Coordinator
New Hampshire Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301

Dear Ms. Fair:

This is in response to your memorandum of March 27 seeking guidance as to whether or not seven schools that did not make adequate yearly progress in 1999-00 and 2000-01 should be identified as year-one school improvement schools for the 2002-03 year.

The background section of your memorandum indicates that State assessment data were released to school districts in late October and early November, and those districts self-identified schools that were not making adequate yearly progress. At that time the 1994 Title I requirements were in effect, and in accordance with section 1116 (c) (1) —

.....a LEA shall identify for school improvement any school served under this part that —

  1. has been in program improvement under section 1020 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (as such section was in effect on the day preceding the date of enactment of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994) for at least two consecutive school years prior to such day;
  2. has not made adequate progress as defined in the State's plan under section 1111 (b) (2) (A) (i) for two consecutive years, except that —
    1. this subparagraph shall not apply to a school if almost every student in such school is meeting the State's advanced level of performance; or
    2. in the case of a targeted assistance school, such school may be reviewed on the progress of only those students that have been served under this part; or
  3. has failed to meet the criteria established by the State through the State's transitional procedure under section 1111 (b)(7)(B) for two consecutive years.

The seven schools in question contend that they did not receive notification from the State of their school improvement status until February 2002, and therefore they should not be considered to be in the first year of school improvement at the beginning of the 2002-03 school year. These schools had not made adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years, and in accordance with the 1994 statute, were identified by the local educational agency (LEA) in October—early November of 2001. This identification (not the later correspondence sent by the State to the district) was the official designation of school improvement status for the seven schools. The letter forwarded by the State educational agency (SEA) in February 2002 simply acknowledged information that had previously been disclosed. Therefore, consistent with the new Title I requirements and effective for the 2001-02 school year, these schools are currently considered as being in their first year of school improvement.

Consistent with the 1994 requirements under section 1116 (c) (2)(A)(B)(C), the seven schools should currently be implementing their school improvement plan or revised school improvement plan. The LEA should be providing technical assistance to the schools as they implement the plan consistent with the 1994 requirements under section 1116 (c) (3)(4).

The 2001 statute provides guidance to States and districts as to the treatment of schools previously identified for school improvement, and is currently applicable to the seven schools. According to section 1116 (f) (1) (A) (i) —

Any school that was in the first year of school improvement status under this section on the day preceding the date of enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (as this section was in effect on such day) shall be treated by the local educational agency as a school that is in the first year of school improvement status under paragraph (1).

If the seven schools fail to meet adequate yearly progress criteria this year, consistent with section 1116 (b)(E)(i) of the current Title I requirements, those schools shall, not later than the first day of the school year (2002-03), provide all students enrolled in those schools with the option to transfer to another public school served by the LEA.

We understand that State compliance with requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act will be challenging. If this Department can be of assistance in identifying States that are experiencing success in modifying their systems in order to carry out school choice, or can provide other technical assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Joseph F. Johnson, Jr.
Director
Compensatory Education Programs
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

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