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Title I Changes: Duncan Says What He Wants

From guest blogger Catherine Gewertz:

In a letter sent today to all chief state school officers, Ed Secretary Arne Duncan outlines several changes he intends to make to the rules covering Title I programs, either by issuing waivers or new proposed regulations.

He is proposing to change a 2002 regulation that bars school districts that have failed to make adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act from serving as tutoring providers under that law. You might remember that when Duncan was Chicago schools CEO, the district fought tooth and nail for the right to serve as a tutoring entity for its students, even though it had failed to make AYP. It won that right, and the feds, in a pilot program, eventually extended the same right to a few other districts "in need of improvement."

Duncan's letter also says he will also consider waiving, for the 2009-10 year, a regulatory requirement that school districts tell parents at least 14 days before the school year starts if their children are eligible to transfer to another school. He said some states' testing schedules make compliance with that requirement impossible this year.

And Duncan is proposing to change an October 2008 regulation requiring states to update the accountability workbooks required under NCLB. In his letter, Duncan said it doesn't "make sense" to make states undertake that task now, as they are struggling to implement economic stimulus funding, and because the upcoming reauthorization of NCLB could mean that workbooks have to be updated all over again.

The Secretary proposed no changes to the high school graduation-rate regulations issued last October by his predecessor, Margaret Spellings. He praised them as "an important first step," but gave no hint about what next steps might be.

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