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House Education Leaders Issue Draft NCLB Renewal Plan

By David J. Hoff & Alyson Klein — August 28, 2007 4 min read
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The leaders of the House education committee today released a draft of a plan for reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act, outlining proposals that would revise how adequate yearly progress is calculated and overhaul the interventions for schools failing to meet achievement goals.

In releasing the long-awaited plan, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said that they were inviting comments from educators so that they can incorporate their ideas into the bill they hope to introduce shortly after Labor Day.

“This draft is a work in progress, subject to change over the coming weeks as the committee moves a bill through the legislative process,” Reps. Miller and McKeon wrote in a letter to “education stakeholders.”

“The committee has not endorsed this staff discussion draft,” adds the Aug. 27 letter, which was also signed by Rep. Dale E. Kildee, D-Mich., and Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Education and Labor Committee’s key subcommittee on K-12 education. “However, we believe it represents a starting point from which to receive input.”

An 11-page summary of the draft bill details many of the ideas Rep. Miller previously said would be included in his reauthorization proposal, such as using so-called growth models to calculate AYP, adding measures other than statewide tests to allow schools to reach their progress goals, and differentiating interventions based on schools’ achievement levels.

In outlining the use of growth models, which track individual student progress instead of comparing different cohorts of students, the document says that states would need to measure schools’ and districts’ progress toward the goal of universal proficiency in reading and mathematics by the end of the 2013-14 school year. That’s the goal set in the current No Child Left Behind Act, which President Bush signed into law in January 2002.

The draft adds a clause that could extend the deadline, saying that students in all the demographic, racial, and ethnic subgroups that the current law tracks would need to at least be “on a trajectory” toward proficiency for a school or district to be determined to be making AYP.

Although reading and mathematics scores on statewide tests would remain the key indicator for AYP purposes, under the draft plan states could choose to allow their schools and districts to earn credit for improvement on other measures. States could, for example, choose to consider a school’s or district’s results on science and social studies tests; passing rates on high school end-of-course exams; and graduation and college-enrollment rates, according to the document.

The draft also proposes a 15-state pilot project that would allow districts to create their own assessments that are “rigorously aligned with state standards to augment the adequate yearly progress determination.” If the pilot project proved successful, the U.S. Department of Education would have the authority to allow other states to adopt locally developed tests for AYP purposes.

Meanwhile, the plan would establish a maximum “N” size, or the minimum subgroup size that counts toward schools’ and districts’ accountability, of 30 students. Currently under the law, states have set, and the Department of Education has approved, N sizes ranging from 5 to 75 students.

More Details Coming

The Education Committee plan also proposes to create two separate systems for targeting interventions for schools in need of improvement.

One would be for “priority schools,” defined as those that miss AYP for one or two student subgroups and need only targeted assistance. The other would be for “high-priority schools,” which would include schools that fail to meet the law’s targets for most, if not all, subgroups and need substantial help.

High-priority schools would choose at least four improvement strategies from a menu of options that includes employing proven instructional programs, adopting formative assessments, offering school choice and free after-school tutoring, and providing extra support to families, such as counseling services. Schools could also make changes to their learning environments, such as introducing dropout-recovery and credit-completion programs and 9th-grade-transition programs.

Priority schools would be required to develop a three-year plan, implementing at least two such improvement measures. The interventions could be targeted to subgroups that weren’t making AYP.

The draft released today outlines changes to Part A of the Title I program, which covers the largest appropriation under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The NCLB law is the latest version of the 42-year-old ESEA.

Later, Rep. Miller will outline his proposals for issues addressed in other sections of the law, such as teacher quality, impact aid, safe and drug-free schools, and the Reading First program.

The House education committee is expected to release its reauthorization bill in September. It plans to hold a hearing on NCLB reauthorization on Sept. 10, said Thomas Kiley, a spokesman for Rep. Miller.

The House Education and Labor Committee is collecting responses to the draft plan until Sept. 5 via e-mail at ESEA.Comments@mail.house.gov. .

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