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Spellings Issuing Rules on Graduation Rates, Other NCLB Issues

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As promised earlier this month, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is set to propose rules today requiring a uniform high school graduation rate. But her proposal goes far beyond graduation rates, according to information provided to me. It would require states and school districts to take steps to ensure that students have access to choice and supplementary educational services and give them several new reporting and monitoring responsibilities.

Here's a quick summary:

Choice and SES
Districts would need to take action to expand participation in choice and SES before they can use the money reserved for those services for general purposes under Title I. Those actions would include:

•Coordinating with community groups to notify parents of their options to transfer their children to a new school and/or to enroll them in free tutoring;
•Informing parents of their eligibility for choice and/or SES two weeks before the beginning of the school year;
•Ensuring that forms used to sign up for choice and SES are "widely available" to parents on the Internet and through other sources;
•Letting students sign up for SES throughout the school year; and
•Giving tutoring companies access to schools so they can tutor students there.

If a district doesn't do these things, it would need to reserve its set-aside for choice and SES to spend on those services in the next academic year.

Every school year, districts would be required to report data on participation in choice and SES, including the number of students using those options and the number of eligible students who didn't take advantage of them. The districts also would need to publish a list of schools in the district that students are allowed to transfer to under NCLB.

States would be given new responsibilities to monitor tutoring companies. They would need to check whether the companies' instruction matches the state's academic standards; addresses the individual needs of students; and helps students achieve proficiency on the states' tests.

"N" Size
States would be required to reevaluate the minimum number of students in a demographic subgroup that a school or district must have to be held accountable for that subgroup. The number is commonly known as the "n" size. Under the proposal, each state would be required to validate that their "n" size was "no larger than necessary to ensure the protection of privacy for individuals and to allow for statistically reliable results of the aggregate performance of the students who make up the subgroup," the rules say.

State Testing
The rules would clarify that states' tests should assess students on more than basic skills. The proposal says that state tests should include questions "that measure both higher-order thinking skills ... as well as knowledge and recall items to assess the depth and breadth of mastery of a particular content domain."

The rules also would require states to publish their reading and mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress alongside the scores on their own tests. Districts also would be required to list the states' NAEP scores when publishing their own scores on state tests.

High School Graduation Rates
States would be required to use graduation rates that track cohorts of students as they progress through high school. They would need to have those methods in place by the end of the 2012-13 school year. The formula is the same as the one all states agreed to use in a 2005 compact among the nation's governors.

In reporting graduation rates in the 2008-09 school year, states, districts, and schools would need to publish data for every subgroup of students tracked under NCLB. To make AYP, districts would need to meet state goals to improve their graduation rates. Starting in the 2012-13 school year, all schools' AYP status would be determined based on their graduation rates.

The rules also would force states to adopt goals that would demonstrate "continuous and substantial" progress on improving their graduation rates.

Secretary Spellings is planning an announcement of the new rules today at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time in Detroit. Edweek.org will have more on this later today.

4 Comments

Once again consideration for our English Language Learners is blatantly missing from the proposed changes. The simple awarenes that we are asking schools and students to achieve in one generation or less what was never accomplished by any other immigrant group, that is to graduate from high school and enter and succeed in college in its first generation.
The simple awareness that all ELLs' are not the same the continum ranges from late arriving with no formal education through highly educated who only need to learn the language call for an array of assessments that are sensitive to these variables.
But it is really no suprise that most if not all major reports that are reffered to by educators leave the issue of ELLS' out of the picture and in many urban schools districts these are the very children that are keeping our schools open. Go figure?


The only outcome any of us expect is that every child receive an "Adequate" education. Even then, we have "waivers" for those unable to perform at the lowest acceptable level. We even have built in standard deviations to be fair.
Sorry, but I do not believe minimum standards is too much to expect of any American.

Yet more languange is added to the "mandates" of the "law", with no real reform or method of reform mentioned. There is nothing at all new in any of this and there is no concrete reform plan mentioned. One especially grating assumption is that there is any funding to set aside in the first place and if it is set aside, there is no warranty that the use of it will be effective.

I am ALL FOR forcing schools to have curriculum programs that offer ALL of their students relevant, standards based educations that truly meet them "where they are". As a former Special Education Teacher in a public High School, in South Carolina, I can tell you that our drop out rate was nearly 40%. It broke my heart, but we had nothing to offer the vast majority of students at our school, who did not learn on grade level (Regular education or Special Education). We did have a Technical Trade School, but even there the standards kept getting pushed higher, and higher until many students could no longer keep up...even with accommodations. If there were behavior issues, forget it! We did have a local Vocational Rehabilitation Office that was eager to work out a feasible way to work with our students; however, our Special Services Department Director would not let us even suggest it. The only way that students could get involved was to drop out, and go there independently. Fortunately, several did choose to do that, and to this day, they are my most successful students. It saddens me so much that public schools can be given so much to help our kids, yet through poor planning, or selfish motives, do NOT PUT THE NEEDS OF THE CHILDREN FIRST. I applaud Mrs. Spellings for the stand she has taken, and I'm glad she chose Columbia, SC, to speak. I hope my county heard her LOUD AND CLEAR.

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