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Title I Changes: A Preview

The Education Department is at the center of a flurry of activity expected tomorrow.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to visit Doswell E. Brooks Elementary School in Capitol Heights, Md., to announce more detailed guidance on the economic stimulus package. Reportedly, the money is supposed to start flowing to states tomorrow as well. The guidance is expected to focus on the data points that states and districts will have to collect to show they're making progress on four assurances that are spelled out in the stimulus as a condition of receiving the nearly $40 billion state stabilization fund money.

And, the department is expected to announce changes to the Title I program, specifically to accountability provisions under the No Child Left Behind Act. We're hearing from education advocates that these Title I changes will hit on four main topics:

* The department wants to change the regulations to allow districts that are in need of improvement under NCLB to be able to provide their own tutoring services. (Even if they’re allowed to tutor, districts still have to permit outside providers to solicit students – they can’t just bar them.) That's now just a pilot program that several districts, including Chicago Public Schools (Arne Duncan's old district), are participating in.

* School districts will be able to get a waiver from the requirement that they notify parents 15 days ahead of time that their children are eligible for tutoring services under NCLB if states are late in getting test scores to districts.

* States will not have to update their accountability workbooks this year to justify their "n-size" or "confidence intervals" per the time frame outlined in the regulations that ex-Secretary Margaret Spellings ushered in last year. These are very wonky, but important pieces of information that states use to determine if districts and schools are making adequate yearly progress under the law.

* The department wants to continue to work with individual states to re-examine how districts' graduation rates are determined.

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