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March 24, 2004 1 min read
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High School ‘Summits’ Aim to Yield Reforms

Hoping to inspire a new wave of improvements in the nation’s secondary schools, the Department of Education has begun a series of seven regional “high school summits.”

Find information about the high school summits. From the Department of Education.

Secretary of Education Rod Paige said in a statement that the multistate gatherings are designed “to generate a national dialogue on how we can restructure high schools as top-quality learning institutions.” The goal, he added is to ensure that students “graduate with the knowledge and skills they need for good jobs or higher education.”

Each chief state school officer is to send teams of educators and policymakers to one of the regional gatherings, where they are to work on short- and long-range plans for improving high schools in their states, according to the department.

The summits are a major element of Mr. Paige’s Preparing America’s Future High School Initiative, which was announced last October.

The first meeting took place March 12-13 in Billings, Mont., and the next is slated for March 26-27 in Atlanta.

—Caroline Hendrie

Ed. Dept. Clarifies Rules On Classroom Aides

The Department of Education is offering additional guidance to school administrators on meeting federal requirements for “qualified” paraprofessionals.

Read “Title I Paraprofessionals, Non-Regulatory Guidance,” from the Department of Education.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, classroom assistants in schools receiving money from the federal, Title I anti-poverty program are required to have completed two years of college or passed a test of basic skills by 2006 to be deemed qualified.

The updated guidance, which was issued early this month, highlights local discretion in deciding whether paraprofessionals who are getting their jobs back after layoffs should be considered “newly hired.” Since 2002, newly hired paraprofessionals have had to meet the law’s standard.

In addition, the guidance specifies under what circumstances continuing education counts for college credit and what “two years” of college means. The paper includes further clarifications, and recaps an earlier advisory from the Education Department.

—Bess Keller

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