Federal

California, U.S. Department of Education Strike Deal on NCLB Rules

By Michelle R. Davis & Joetta L. Sack — March 15, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education announced an agreement with California last week that would end a discrepancy over how that state determines which school districts are in need of improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The change would bring the number of California districts found to be in need of improvement up to 184 from 14 now identified by the state, but fewer than the 310 California officials feared might have been labeled by the department. The state has 1,000 school districts.

The agreement, announced March 8, the same day Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger met in Washington with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, follows months of wrangling between state and Washington officials over the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

Raymond J. Simon, the department’s assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, said last week that California had received approval to use Tennessee’s accountability model to determine which of its districts are not up to federal standards. Under that model, which is being used in about 20 states, districts are labeled in need of improvement if they miss federal achievement goals, or adequate yearly progress, for two consecutive years in a subgroup or subject across all grade spans.

For example, if a district subgroup, such as Latino students, does not make AYP for mathematics in elementary schools for one year, then fails to make AYP in math for the middle-grades span the second year but is successful on the elementary level that year, the district would not be identified as in need of improvement.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that districts labeled as needing improvement develop improvement plans and ultimately face sanctions, including state takeovers, if they don’t progress sufficiently.

California had been using an additional method to determine whether districts met annual progress targets. The state allowed districts to avoid the needs-improvement label by looking at whether their low-income students hit a certain threshold on state standardized tests. Under that method, only 14 districts met the needs-improvement criteria.

“There was some misunderstanding on the part of the [state board of education] at the time they used the indicator as to whether or not they could use it,” Mr. Simon said.

He said the law does not permit an additional indicator unless it is to be used to put more schools in improvement.

‘A Compromise’

The California state board approved the agreement March 9, and has notified the 184 districts of their status and asked them to draft improvement plans.

The districts also must cease providing supplemental educational services themselves by the end of the current semester, Mr. Simon said. Federal law requires those tutoring services for students in districts deemed in need of improvement. But the Education Department says that districts labeled in need of improvement cannot themselves provide that extra help.

The Education Department will treat the 2005-06 school year as the first year of the newly labeled districts’ improvement plans.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said that the agreement was a compromise, and that he was pleased with some aspects of it and not pleased with others.

“This is a compromise from a very inflexible federal department and their one-size, overly prescriptive approach to public education,” he said in an interview last week.

Mr. O’Connell said some of the districts on the revised list are high performers and were included because of low test-participation rates by special education students and other subgroups.

A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2005 edition of Education Week as California, U.S. Department of Education Strike Deal on NCLB Rules

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion The Great Project 2025 Freakout
There's nothing especially scary in the Heritage Foundation's education agenda—nor is it a reliable gauge of another Trump administration.
6 min read
Man lurking behind the American flag, suspicion concept.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Data Is the Federal Agency That Tracks School Data Losing Steam?
A new study of U.S. data agencies finds serious capacity problems at the National Center for Education Statistics.
3 min read
Illustration of data bar charts and line graphs superimposed over a school crossing sign.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty images
Federal Trump's VP Pick: What We Know About JD Vance's Record on Education
Two days after a gunman tried to assassinate him, former President Donald Trump announced Ohio Sen. JD Vance as his running mate.
4 min read
Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio.
Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. Trump on July 15 announced the first-term Ohio senator as his running mate.
Jeff Dean/AP
Federal In Wake of Trump Assassination Attempt, Biden Calls for Unity and Investigation Gets Underway
President Biden condemns violence, the FBI searches for a motive, and Trump heads to RNC.
3 min read
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pa.
Former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents after being struck by gunfire at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pa. The day after the attempted assasination of the Republican nominee for president, Trump arrived in Milwaukee ahead of the start of the Republican National Convention and President Joe Biden gave a prime-time address, saying "politics must never be a literal battlefied. God forbid, a killing field."
Evan Vucci/AP