Reauthorizing ESEA With Latino Students in Mind

By Catherine Gewertz — October 01, 2009 1 min read
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The drumbeat on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (known most recently as No Child Left Behind) has been sounding a little more loudly lately. Arne Duncan beat the drum a bit last week. This week, the National Council of La Raza, which advocates policies for improving the schooling of Latino students, is articulating what it thinks has to happen in a reauthorization to safeguard those students’ interests.

In a paper out today, La Raza says that new Title I rules issued last fall went part of the way toward better accountability for schools that serve large numbers of Latino students. For instance, under the new regulations, high schools will be held accountable not just for one overall graduation rate, but for the graduation rates of subgroups such as low-income students and Latino students.

But while La Raza applauds such changes, it argues that the reauthorization has to take them a step further.

For instance, the rules require high schools to make “continuous and substantial” improvement in their graduation rates. But La Raza argues that more definitive language is needed to ensure that districts aren’t making adequate yearly progress just because their growth targets are unacceptably low.

Some of the rules implemented last fall, though, should just be changed, the group argues. At the high school level, it points to the rule that allows states to use an “extended year” graduation rate—one that gives them partial credit for students who take five or six years to get diplomas. Using extended-year rates is “worrisome” because it risks putting lower-achieving students on a “slower academic track” than that of their peers, La Raza says.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.