Paige Allows Wiggle Room
For Late-Coming Test Scores
by Erik W. Robelen, Education Week, September 4, 2002
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Some school districts may get a little extra time to fully
meet federal requirements aimed at providing families with new
educational options, the Department of Education has
The issue concerns a subset of schools in states where spring
test results were not expected until after the start of the
new academic year. In cases that meet certain criteria, the
state may allow districts to delay offering public school
choice by up to a semester. However, the districts must make a
choice of supplemental educational services available to
applicable students as soon as the test results are available.
Under the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, if a school
fails to make adequate progress on test scores for two years
in a row, the district must provide public school choice and
use a portion of its federal Title I aid to pay transportation
costs. After a third year of failing to make adequate
progress, the district also must allow parents to select a
provider of supplemental educational services, such as
tutoring. Again, the district must use Title I dollars to pay
for the services. ("Long-Awaited ESEA Rules Are Released,"
Aug. 7, 2002.)
To be removed from the list of schools in so-called "school
improvement" status that face such consequences, a school must
make adequate progress for two consecutive years.
In an Aug. 16 letter to states, Secretary of Education Rod
Paige said the department would provide some flexibility in
cases in which a school with the "school improvement" label
had shown adequate progress during the 2000-01 year, but
needed a second year of progress to get off that list. A state
still waiting for spring test results after the new school
year began may let districts wait for those results before
deciding the fate of such schools, the secretary said.
If a school's test results showed a second year of adequate
progress, the district would not be required to offer school
choice or supplemental services to students attending the
school. If the school failed to make adequate progress, it
would have to comply immediately with the
supplemental-services requirement, and meet the choice
requirement as soon as possible, but no later than the second
term of the school year.
Officials in Kentucky had expressed a desire to wait for test
results before moving forward.