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House Cheat Sheet, Part 3

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Here's my final post summarizing the contents of the House education committee's NCLB draft. (See Part 1 and Part 2.) I'll focus on students with disabilities and touch on a few other subjects ...

Testing Special Education Children
The draft would keep the Department of Education's 2 percent rule intact. That rule allows 2 percent of students (approximately 20 percent of special education students) to take a modified assessment. Those who are proficient on those modified tests are counted as proficient for accountability purposes. To accommodate districts with high numbers of special education students, the draft would allow districts to apply for a waiver to expand their exception to 3 percent.

The draft would require the Secretary of Education to review the rule and revise it as necessary within three years.

If a child exits the special education program, the bill would allow a school to count his or her scores in the special education category for accountability purposes for three years. Presumably, this would make it easier for schools to make AYP in the special education category.

The bill also would finance efforts to develop "appropriate assessments for students with disabilities," the summary says. If states don't adopt such tests within two years, they'll be penalized with a loss of administrative funds.

In other issues,

Salary Comparability
The draft would close a loophole that's been in Title I for a long time. It's a complicated accounting procedure that critics say shortchanges Title I schools. Here's an important study on the issue, and a story I wrote about the report.

It's a small issue that could be a big hurdle to get this bill out of the House. I've heard Kati Haycock of the Education Trust say closing this loophole is her top priority in this reauthorization, but the teacher unions probably will fight her tooth and nail.

Rigorous Standards
Would provide incentives for states to increase the rigor of their standards so they're tied to the expectations of colleges and the workplace. It also would encourage states to compare their standards to international benchmarks. This probably doesn't go far enough to satisfy advocates of nationals standards, but it does nudge the debate in that direction.

Standards Study
The National Academy of Sciences would conduct a study that would develop methods to compare the rigor of state standards and would require the Secretary of Education to create a scale that compares states' standards using the findings of the study.

High Schools
Would create the Graduation Promise Fund to finance schoolwide efforts to improve high schools with the highest dropout rates. It also would provide money to help middle school students at risk of dropping out.

That's all I've got. Let me know if I missed anything.

3 Comments

David,

Thank you for keeping EdWeek readers informed with your NCLB updates. It's nice to know where to go to get such a comprehensive picture of what's on the horizon for this critical legislation. Keep it coming. You're doing a fantasic job.

Paul Hoss

I tried going through the 435 pages of the draft, but found your insights very helpful. There is some organization called QueryMaster (www.querymaster.org) that has an up-to-date list of documents on No Child Left Behind that I subscribe to which is quite useful as well.

I appreciate you pointing out the importance of the salary comparability issue. Without the use of real salary figures parents and others are led to believe that a "school is a school is a school." I can envision a change in staffing patterns simply from providing transparency on this issue. In an urban district--where there are likely to be some feeder patterns or schools that cater to the more well off--some schools may begin to make choices between cornering the market on experience and having cash for other expenditures. Meanwhile, the schools for the left-over and left-out may have the opportunity to nurture and hold on to teachers as they mature in their field.

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