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Published in Print: April 7, 2004, as Changing the Rules

Changing the Rules

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The Department of Education announced last week another in a series of policy changes designed to give states and school districts additional flexibility in meeting requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act. Here is a summary of the changes so far.

Dec. 9, 2003

Students with disabilities: New federal rules make it easier for states to test students with the most severe cognitive disabilities and include their test results in schools’ performance ratings.

English-language learners: Schools are not required to give children with limited proficiency in English their states’ regular reading tests if such students have been enrolled in U.S. schools for less than a year. Also, states may count students who have become proficient in English within the past two years in their calculations of "adequate yearly progress" for English-language learners.

Highly qualified teachers: Extra flexibility provided for teachers in rural communities and for science teachers in meeting the "highly qualified" mandate. The revisions also streamline alternative means for current teachers seeking to demonstrate subject-matter mastery in multiple subjects.

Test-participation rates: States may average participation over a two-or-three-year period to meet the demand that schools test at least 95 percent of students overall and in certain subgroups. Also, when calculating participation, schools may omit students who miss the testing window because of a medical emergency.

Vol. 23, Issue 30, Page 29

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