Changes Proposed to No Child Left Behind U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings recently proposed major regulatory changes to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, including requirements for a uniform formula to calculate high school graduation rates and improved parental notification for supplemental education services and public school choice. The most significant change, designed to aid ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   May 01, 2008
Changes Proposed to No Child Left Behind
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.
    Susan Boswell, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   May 01, 2008
Changes Proposed to No Child Left Behind
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, 1-4. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.13072008.1
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, 1-4. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.13072008.1
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings recently proposed major regulatory changes to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, including requirements for a uniform formula to calculate high school graduation rates and improved parental notification for supplemental education services and public school choice.
The most significant change, designed to aid in the identification of problem schools, would require all states to adopt the same formula to calculate high school graduation rates by 2013. The push for adoption of a universal method follows a study by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which revealed that only 52% of students in the large public school districts in the nation’s 50 largest cities graduated from high school.
Under the proposed formula, graduation rates would be calculated by dividing the number of students who receive a regular high school diploma in any given year by the number of first-time ninth-graders who entered high school four years earlier, adjusting for students who transfer in and out of the district. Each state would be responsible for setting a graduation rate goal and for disaggregating data by subgroup to allow comparisons among students of every race, background, and income level. Beginning in the 2008–2009 academic year, a school or district would have to meet the graduation goal or demonstrate its continuous and substantial improvement from the prior year to satisfy adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements.
Under the law, states and high schools must report their graduation rates to the federal government—but may use their own formulas to do so. As a result, states have adopted an array of contrasting formulas, most of which understate the number of dropouts, and official graduation rates are not comparable from state to state.
Under the proposed plan, states could ask the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for permission to set a different graduation time frame for certain students, such as those receiving special education services. This exception could result in wide variation among states in calculating graduation rates for students with disabilities. Specifically, the proposal says “a state may propose, for approval by the Secretary, an alternate definition of ’standard number of years’ that would apply to limited categories of students who, under certain conditions, may take longer to graduate.”
Supplemental Services
Spellings also wants to require schools to strengthen parental notification in two areas: opportunities for low-income students in underperforming schools to receive federally financed supplemental educational services, and the right to transfer out of failing schools two weeks before the start of each school year. The proposed regulations would ensure that states enhance public information about available tutors, how these providers are approved and monitored, and most importantly, how effective they are in helping students improve.
Growth Models
Other provisions in the proposal would build on the growth model pilot program that allows states to make accountability decisions based on gains in individual students’ test scores. This method allows districts to make decisions by comparing each year’s cohorts against cohorts in the same grade the previous year. Spelling’s proposal would outline the criteria that states must meet in order to incorporate individual student progress into the state’s definition of AYP.
Spellings also is proposing to strengthen restructuring provisions of the law for schools in need of the most significant intervention. According to a recent study, 40% of schools in restructuring did not implement any of the restructuring options under the law. The proposed regulations will clarify that restructuring interventions must be more rigorous and must address the reasons for the school being in restructuring.
To address the technical assistance needs of states and their departments of education, Spellings proposed the creation of a National Technical Advisory Council. The council will comprise experts in the fields of education standards, accountability systems, statistics, and psychometrics and will advise the ED on technical issues to ensure state standards and assessments are of the highest technical quality.
Congressional Stalemate
Spellings’ NCLB proposal comes at a time when congressional efforts to reauthorize President Bush’s landmark education legislation have come to a standstill. If Congress does not act, the original law will remain as written, although administrative changes may be made.
The proposed rules were published in the April 23 issue of The Federal Register and public comments on the proposal will be accepted for 60 days. ASHA is reviewing the proposed regulations and anticipates submitting comments on issues of concern to its members. ED will also provide opportunities for public input during regional meetings. The dates, times, and locations of these meetings will be announced in a separate notice in The Federal Register.
To review the proposed regulations and read The Federal Register notice, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site. For more information, contact Catherine D. Clarke, director of education and regulatory advocacy, at cclarke@asha.org or at 800-274-2376, ext. 5611.
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May 2008
Volume 13, Issue 7