Some school districts may get a little extra time to fully meet federal requirements aimed at providing families with new educational options, the Department of Education has announced.
The issue concerns a subset of schools in states where spring test results were not expected until after the start of the new academic year. In cases that meet certain criteria, the state may allow districts to delay offering public school choice by up to a semester. However, the districts must make a choice of supplemental educational services available to applicable students as soon as the test results are available.
Under the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, if a school fails to make adequate progress on test scores for two years in a row, the district must provide public school choice and use a portion of its federal Title I aid to pay transportation costs. After a third year of failing to make adequate progress, the district also must allow parents to select a provider of supplemental educational services, such as tutoring. Again, the district must use Title I dollars to pay for the services. (“Long-Awaited ESEA Rules Are Released,” Aug. 7, 2002.)
To be removed from the list of schools in so-called “school improvement” status that face such consequences, a school must make adequate progress for two consecutive years.
In an Aug. 16 letter to states, Secretary of Education Rod Paige said the department would provide some flexibility in cases in which a school with the “school improvement” label had shown adequate progress during the 2000-01 year, but needed a second year of progress to get off that list. A state still waiting for spring test results after the new school year began may let districts wait for those results before deciding the fate of such schools, the secretary said.
If a school’s test results showed a second year of adequate progress, the district would not be required to offer school choice or supplemental services to students attending the school. If the school failed to make adequate progress, it would have to comply immediately with the supplemental-services requirement, and meet the choice requirement as soon as possible, but no later than the second term of the school year.
Officials in Kentucky had expressed a desire to wait for test results before moving forward.