Education

House Cheat Sheet, Part 3

August 31, 2007 2 min read

Here’s my final post summarizing the contents of the House education committee’s NCLB draft. (See Part 1 and Part 2.) I’ll focus on students with disabilities and touch on a few other subjects ...

Testing Special Education Children
The draft would keep the Department of Education’s 2 percent rule intact. That rule allows 2 percent of students (approximately 20 percent of special education students) to take a modified assessment. Those who are proficient on those modified tests are counted as proficient for accountability purposes. To accommodate districts with high numbers of special education students, the draft would allow districts to apply for a waiver to expand their exception to 3 percent.

The draft would require the Secretary of Education to review the rule and revise it as necessary within three years.

If a child exits the special education program, the bill would allow a school to count his or her scores in the special education category for accountability purposes for three years. Presumably, this would make it easier for schools to make AYP in the special education category.

The bill also would finance efforts to develop “appropriate assessments for students with disabilities,” the summary says. If states don’t adopt such tests within two years, they’ll be penalized with a loss of administrative funds.

In other issues,

Salary Comparability
The draft would close a loophole that’s been in Title I for a long time. It’s a complicated accounting procedure that critics say shortchanges Title I schools. Here’s an important study on the issue, and a story I wrote about the report.

It’s a small issue that could be a big hurdle to get this bill out of the House. I’ve heard Kati Haycock of the Education Trust say closing this loophole is her top priority in this reauthorization, but the teacher unions probably will fight her tooth and nail.

Rigorous Standards
Would provide incentives for states to increase the rigor of their standards so they’re tied to the expectations of colleges and the workplace. It also would encourage states to compare their standards to international benchmarks. This probably doesn’t go far enough to satisfy advocates of nationals standards, but it does nudge the debate in that direction.

Standards Study
The National Academy of Sciences would conduct a study that would develop methods to compare the rigor of state standards and would require the Secretary of Education to create a scale that compares states’ standards using the findings of the study.

High Schools
Would create the Graduation Promise Fund to finance schoolwide efforts to improve high schools with the highest dropout rates. It also would provide money to help middle school students at risk of dropping out.

That’s all I’ve got. Let me know if I missed anything.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.