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Published in Print: August 7, 2002, as Schools Needing Improvement

Schools Needing Improvement

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Draft regulations released last week clarify some of the new consequences for Title I schools identified for "school improvement."

  • If a school fails to make adequate progress for two years in a row, the district must offer its students a choice of other public schools in the district, including public charter schools. Districts must give parents a choice of more than one school, as long as there are multiple schools at that grade level that have not been labeled low-performing. Districts must use a portion of their Title I aid to provide free transportation for students.
  • Districts must "take into account parents' preferences in assigning students to a new school," and they must provide parents with information on the performance of the schools students can transfer to.
  • Implementation of a desegregation plan does not exempt a district from meeting the choice provisions. Only a state law that prohibits "choice through restrictions on public school assignments or the transfer of students from one public school to another public school" could exempt a state from meeting the choice provisions.
  • If a school fails to make adequate progress for three years, the district must offer its students supplemental services from public or private providers, using a portion of district funds under the Title I program for disadvantaged students. A district's list of state-approved providers, from which parents can select supplemental services, must include "providers of technology-based or distance-learning services," as well as providers located in neighboring districts. Schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring may not provide supplemental services.
  • Districts must ensure that any collective bargaining or other agreements negotiated after Jan. 8, 2002, when the law was signed, do not prohibit actions required to implement school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.
  • Schools identified as needing improvement prior to enactment of the new law are to continue in their previous status. (As many as 8,600 schools may be subject to the choice and/or supplemental-services provisions this fall.) Districts, however, have the option of removing from that category those schools that make adequate progress for two consecutive years based on 2001-02 test results. Districts also can choose whether to add to the list those schools that failed to make adequate progress for the second time based on 2001-02 assessments.

Vol. 21, Issue 43, Page 36

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