CONGRESSMAN YOUNG INTRODUCES BILL TO IMPROVE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT
- Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced the No Child Left Behind Improvement Act of 2006 today. This legislation will enhance the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 which was signed into law on January 8, 2002 by improving accountability for the academic performance of children enrolled in the nation's public schools.
"As a former teacher, I am committed to providing our nation's children with the best possible education. I firmly believe in the original goals of NCLB but I understand that a one size fits all approach to student achievement is not possible. Alaska is more than two times the size the state of Texas, yet only has a population of 660,000 compared to the 22.9 million residents of Texas. My bill builds on the major reforms of the NCLB and offers improvements that address many of the unintended consequences of the federal legislation while holding states and school districts accountable.
"Alaska is not alone in having to face unique challenges as it struggles to educate its children. Each state in this country one has geographic, economic or cultural barriers that impede its schools from reaching a level of success as mandated by NCLB. This bill will establish an improved framework for accountability that fairly and accurately assesses student, school, and school district performance. As a result, states and local school districts will be able to more strategically use their resources to bring about meaningful and measurable results," said Congressman Young.
Norman "Norm" Wooten, of Kodiak and President-Elect of the National School Boards Association had this to say: "Representative Don Young is to be commended for his outstanding leadership in introducing legislation that would amend NCLB. His bill addresses many of the major challenges facing students, schools, and local school districts in achieving the goals of this important federal law. In addition to improving the implementation of the law for schools in Alaska, the bill would make significant improvements in the implementation of the law for schools across the nation.
"The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is very pleased that Representative Young has introduced a comprehensive bill that tackles the barriers to full implementation of the federal law. NSBA encourages other members of Congress to join with Representative Young in co-sponsoring this excellent piece of legislation. We commend him for his efforts.
This legislation contains more than forty provisions that focus on five areas: Assessments, Measuring Adequate Yearly Progress, Sanctions, State Flexibility by the U.S. Department of Education and Non-Public Schools. Specifically the bill provides the following:
Assessments. The bill offers greater flexibility to states in the use of alternate assessments for students with disabilities based on the individual education program (IEP) and authorizes states and school districts to count the scores in the calculation of AYP. The bill also offers states the flexibility to use alternate assessments for students who are not proficient in English. In both categories of students the assessment instruments must be valid and reliable in measuring the performance based on the specific needs of the student. The bill would also grant states the flexibility to assess students more than once within the full academic year, and to use the higher scores in calculating the performance of subgroups.
Measuring Adequate Yearly Progress. The bill would authorize states to expand their AYP measurement systems to include gain score approaches like value-added and give partial credit for meeting basic proficient targets. Additionally, states would be permitted greater flexibility in using alternate methods of measuring AYP as long as the ultimate goals of NCLB are achieved. Use of these specific flexibilities would require approval by the U.S. Department of Education. Further, the bill would authorize school districts and schools with diverse student populations to calculate AYP in a way that more accurately reflects subgroup and school performance.
Public School Choice and Supplemental Services. The bill would strengthen the use of sanctions by applying such sanctions only when AYP is not met by the "same group" for two or more consecutive years in the same subject on the same indicator rather than applying sanctions when different groups or different indicators are involved from year to year in that subject. Additionally, the bill offers greater flexibility to states and school districts in the sequence of offering supplemental services and public school choice. Finally, the bill requires more effective use of local funds by limiting the options of public school choice and supplemental services only to those students within the subgroup that failed to meet their AYP targets in the same subject for two or more years - not all the students in the school.
The bill would also remove restrictions from the current law that prohibit local school districts from providing supplemental services solely because the school district did not make AYP or is in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring status. However, the state would have to grant such authority to local school districts
With respect to requiring schools or school districts to implement certain broad restructuring provisions, the total number of students not scoring proficient or above would have to exceed 35% of the enrollment, and Congress would be required to appropriate an increase for Title I of at least $2.5 billion over the previous year, and appropriate at the authorized levels contained in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.
State Flexibility. The bill would grant authority to the Secretary of Education to 1) approve state accountability plans that vary from the federal framework to align with effective state accountability systems, 2) grant statutory and regulatory waivers that are unnecessarily burdensome or duplicative of state requirements, and 3) make public any approved amendments to state accountability plans. Further, the bill would require that any waivers of the state's plan approved by the Secretary would be available to any state on a case-by-case determination provided the state or agency meets any requirements issued by the Secretary applicable to such waivers.
Non-Public Schools. The bill authorizes students enrolled in non-public schools who receive Title I services to be given the same assessments as public school students; and gives states the option to withhold Title I support to the non-public schools if their Title I students do not make AYP and perform at lower levels than their counterparts in the area's public schools for three years or more.