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Officials Moving Swiftly on E.S.E.A. Rules

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The Education Department is moving swiftly to draft regulations for the newly reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act--but not too many of them.

In the Oct. 28 Federal Register, the department published a notice asking for comment from educators, parents, school board members, and others on issues related to the Title I compensatory-education program.

The notice states that the department "intends to issue regulations only where absolutely necessary."

Undersecretary Marshall S. Smith; Thomas W. Payzant, the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education; and Jamienne Studley, the deputy general counsel for regulations and legislative services, are leading the effort.

Mr. Smith said that the department hopes to issue regulations and supplementary guidance next summer, and that Title I will be the first order of business. According to the law, signed by President Clinton on Oct. 20, regulations must be published by July 1.

Negotiated Rulemaking

"We wrote a lot of the bill, and if we didn't write the specific language, we argued over it over the last 18 months," Mr. Smith said. "So we know where we stand on things."

The law requires the department to engage in negotiated rulemaking--in which interested parties try to reach consensus on regulations--on Title I provisions for schoolwide projects and standards and assessment.

The Federal Register notice says that Mr. Payzant will choose negotiators from among those who submit comments.

By the 1996-97 school year, schools may operate schoolwide projects with a student body that is at least 50 percent low-income. Officials are asking for advice on how "to insure that schoolwide-program schools develop a coherent rather than fragmented instructional program."

States must adopt high content and performance standards and accompanying assessments, and use the assessments to show "adequate yearly progress" of Title I students. The department is asking for advice on defining "adequate progress."

The department is also inviting comment on other Title I programs and issues. Comments are due by Nov. 22.

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