Federal

Department Sets Timing for Accountability Plans

By Lynn Olson — February 18, 2004 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

For months, states have been asking federal officials for more guidance about how to make changes in their accountability plans under the No Child Left Behind Act. This month, they got an answer.

In a Feb. 6 letter to state schools chiefs, Raymond J. Simon, the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, said states interested in altering their plans must submit their proposals to the Department of Education no later than April 1 for changes that would affect results from tests given during the current school year.

The deadline is meant to prevent any delay in determining which schools have met their annual performance targets under the federal law. States are supposed to identify schools that did not make “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP, and those in need of improvement before the beginning of each school year.

“While initially the department’s policy provided an open-ended process to provide states maximum flexibility to address their individual timelines,” Mr. Simon wrote, “many states have requested a more structured approach” to revising their accountability plans.

He pledged that the department would “make every effort” to respond to any requests within 30 days.

Patricia L. Sullivan, a deputy executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said superintendents she spoke with last week were generally pleased that the department had responded to their request.

“I think it’s an important signal from the [Bush] administration that they are serious about working with states,” she said, noting that about six states already have amended their plans. “We were also pleased with the time frame in it—that there’s some sort of a deadline both for states and for the administration.”

According to Mr. Simon’s letter, if the department finds the changes proposed by a state comply with federal law and regulations, the state will have to electronically submit an amended accountability “workbook” to the department. States submitted their original workbooks to the federal government last year, detailing how they planned to comply with the law, a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. States must note the date of submission and the amended items on the cover page.

After an amended workbook is received, the Education Department will notify the state that its request has been approved and will post the amended workbook on the federal agency’s Web site.

“Please note that the department must approve a state’s amendment to its accountability plan prior to a state implementing that amendment,” Mr. Simon wrote.

1 Percent Rule

In the letter, Mr. Simon also noted that some states would have to revise their plans based on final regulations issued by the department in December about the use of alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The regulation, which took effect Jan. 8, will guide how states make AYP decisions based on test data beginning this school year.

The rules permit states to count “proficient” scores on alternate assessments that are pegged to other than a grade-level standard as “proficient” when calculating adequate progress, as long as the number of those scores does not exceed 1 percent of all students in the grades tested. (“Long-Awaited Spec. Ed. Testing Rules Issued,” Jan. 7, 2004.)

Last week, officials from the department and the White House took part in a conference call with states about the process for seeking a waiver to go above the 1 percent cap, which has been a concern in some states. The department is expected to release more guidance on the topic shortly.

Ronald A. Peiffer, an assistant state superintendent in Maryland, said the proposed timelines generally would not be an issue for Maryland. But he noted that in a Dec. 30 letter to David Dunn, a special assistant to President Bush, the state chiefs had requested some additional flexibility under the law.

“They need to make some decisions on some of that before we submit our changes,” he said. “In that respect, April 1 may not be that far off.”

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
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
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. f we

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 Senate Confirms Catherine Lhamon to Civil Rights Post; Kamala Harris Casts Decisive Vote
Joe Biden's controversial pick to lead the Education Department's office for civil rights held that job in the Obama administration.
2 min read
Catherine Lhamon, nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Catherine Lhamon, then-nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in July.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Federal White House Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plans for Kids 5-11
The Biden administration will rely on schools, pharmacies, and pediatricians to help deliver the COVID-19 shots to younger children.
3 min read
Ticket number 937 sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Jan. 14, 2021, in Newnan, Ga.
A ticket number sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds in Newnan, Ga.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Federal California, Florida, and Other States Waiting on Green Light for Their COVID Relief Plans
The list of states with Ed. Dept. approval for their American Rescue Plan blueprints is growing steadily, but two big states aren't on it.
4 min read
Image shows an illustration of money providing relief against coronavirus.
DigitalVision Vectors/iStock/Getty
Federal What Is a School Shooting? Members of Congress Seek a Federal Definition, Reliable Data
A new bill would direct federal departments to track data related to school shootings, a term for which there is no federal definition.
Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant
4 min read
Police respond to the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va., on Saturday Sept. 20, 2021. Newport News police Chief Steve Drew said two students were shot and taken to the hospital and neither injury was thought to be life-threatening. The chief said authorities believe the suspect and victims knew one another but did not provide details.
Police respond to the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va., on Saturday Sept. 20, 2021.
John C. Clark/AP Photo