Four more states have won permission to let school districts offer free tutoring to students a year earlier than the federal No Child Left Behind law requires.
U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced on Aug. 4 that Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Utah will be allowed to let districts provide supplemental educational services, or SES, to eligible students whose Title I schools fail to make adequate yearly progress for two years.
The NCLB law says that after two years of falling short of academic targets, districts must offer students the chance to transfer to a better-performing school, and after three years, must provide tutoring using a portion of their Title I money.
But under a federal SES pilot that began in 2005-06 and a “differentiated accountability” pilot that began this year, states can allow some or all of their districts to reverse the order in which they offer those options, or to offer them simultaneously, after only two years of not making AYP. (See States’ Standards, Tests are a Mismatch, Study Finds,” July 26, 2006, and “NCLB Leeway Allows States to Hone Plans,” July 16, 2008.)
A total of 11 states are now allowed that flexibility. The other seven are Virginia, Alaska, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois.
Civil rights groups in Alabama have argued that allowing states to reverse the order of tutoring and transferring denies students their right to leave an underperforming school.
A version of this article appeared in the August 13, 2008 edition of Education Week