State to Pilot 'No Child Behind' Program
North Carolina is one of five states approved to participate in a national pilot to switch the order of the first two years of sanctions that the No Child Left Behind federal law applies to schools in Title I School Improvement.
That is according to notice received by State Superintendent June Atkinson from the U.S. Department of Education. The pilot allows seven districts in North Carolina to offer supplemental educational services, or free tutoring, to economically disadvantaged students in the first year a school is in Title I School Improvement instead of public school choice options, the usual first-year sanction.
The seven districts in the pilot are Burke, Cumberland, Dur-ham, Guilford, Northampton, Pitt and Robeson.
"We welcome the opportunity to pilot this change," Atkinson said. "By offering supplemental educational services in the first year of Title I School Improve-ment, schools could boost their performance enough to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and avoid further levels of sanction. More importantly, students who need additional academic help will have the opportunity to receive it sooner."
Title I schools enter Title I School Improvement when they do not make AYP in the same subject (reading/language arts or mathematics) for two years in a row.
Under No Child Left Behind, Title I School Improvement schools begin a sequence of sanctions that include offering public school choice to all students in the school followed by the requirement of providing supplemental educational services to economically disadvantaged students and continuing public school choice, if the school continues not to make AYP.
In public school choice, parents are given the option to transfer their children to another school designated by the district that is not in Title I School Improvement. When both the public school choice and tutoring options are available to a family, parents can choose the transfer option or tutoring services, but not both.
Public school choice is offered to all students in a Title I school. Extra tutoring services, or supplemental educational services, are offered only to economically disadvantaged students, regardless of the level of their academic performance. In North Carolina, economically disadvantaged is defined as qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch.
Title I School Improvement schools must make AYP for two years in a row in order no longer to face sanctions.
With the pilot project, schools entering their first year of Title I School Improvement in these seven districts must offer supplemental educational services to eligible students. If these schools continue not to make AYP, they must offer public school choice next year, while continuing to offer supplemental educational services.
The piloting districts were selected based on geographic diversity, unique district characteristics and demographics, interest shown by the district and the projected numbers of Title I schools in the district that might be entering year one of Title I School Improvement in 2006-07.
Reading AYP and high school AYP data for all districts, based on 2005-2006 student performance, were presented to the State Board of Education Aug. 2. Mathematics AYP results will be presented to the State Board on Oct. 5.
In the piloting districts, there are 67 Title I schools, representing about 35,000 students, that could move into their first year of Title I School Improvement in 2006-2007. Data from previous years indicate that students and their parents in North Carolina are more likely to take advantage of supplemental educational services than public school choice.
In the piloting districts, fewer than 2 percent of their eligible students participated in public school choice in previous years.
Statewide, in 2005-2006, there were 76,089 students in North Carolina who were offered the option of public school choice. Of those students, fewer than 4 percent (2,826) transferred to other schools. According to North Carolina's Consolidated State Performance Report, in 2004-05, there were 5,539 students eligible for supplemental educational services across the state, and more than 12 percent of those students received services.
The U.S. Department of Education aims for a greater percentage of eligible students to take advantage of the free tutoring opportunity and is offering this pilot as a way to address that goal.
Supplemental educational services are extra academic services, such as tutoring, offered outside of regular school hours, free of cost to eligible students. Services are designed to increase the academic achievement of low-income students, particularly in the areas of reading, language arts and mathematics.
Service providers are approved by the N.C. State Board of Education. Service providers can be public, private, nonprofit or for-profit organizations as long as they have a demonstrated record of effectiveness in increasing student academic achievement and are financially stable.
Perform at Grade-Level
The major goal of the federal No Child Left Behind law is for all public school children to perform at grade level in reading and mathematics by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
AYP measures the yearly progress of different groups of students against yearly targets in reading and mathematics toward meeting the goal.
No Child Left Behind was approved in 2002, and its most significant impact is on public schools that receive federal Title I funds. Title I provides federal funding for schools to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind. Services can include hiring teachers to reduce class size, tutoring, computer labs, parental-involvement activities, professional development, purchase of materials and supplies, pre-kindergarten programs, and hiring teacher assistants or others.
About half the schools in North Carolina receive Title I funding as do all 115 of the state's school districts. Non-Title I schools that do not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject area are required to amend their School Improvement Plans to address the situation.
The purpose of the School Improvement Plan is to establish annual, measurable goals and overall improvement objectives (related especially to achievement of AYP), analyze why the school has not yet achieved its goals, and describe strategies the school will use to improve performance.
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