Education for the Disadvantaged: Reauthorization Issues for ESEA Title I-A Under the No Child Left Behind Act

Order Code RL33731 Education for the Disadvantaged: Reauthorization Issues for ESEA Title I-A Under the No Child Left Behind Act Updated November 6, 2008 Wayne C. Riddle Specialist in Education Policy Domestic Social Policy Division Education for the Disadvantaged: Reauthorization Issues for ESEA Title I-A Under the No Child Left Behind Act Summary Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) authorizes aid to local educational agencies (LEAs) for the education of disadvantaged children. Title I-A grants are used to provide supplementary educational and related services to low-achieving and other pupils attending schools with relatively high concentrations of pupils from low-income families. Title I-A has detailed provisions regarding pupil assessment, program improvement, allocation of funds, school selection, fiscal accountability, and parental involvement, but includes few constraints on such matters as the specific resources for which funds are used. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), P.L. 107-110, substantially expanded Title I-A provisions requiring participating states to adopt content and pupil performance standards, and assessments linked to these; and to identify, and take specified actions with respect to, low-performing schools and LEAs. NCLB also attempted to increase targeting of funds on high-poverty LEAs and schools, and in some respects to increase flexibility in the use of Title I-A funds. The current authorization of appropriations for Title I-A and most other NCLB programs will expire during the 110th Congress. Major Title I-A reauthorization issues include the following: (1) What has been the impact of the assessment requirements adopted in 2001, and should these be extended to include additional subject areas or more assessments of high school students? (2) Are adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements appropriately focused on improving education for disadvantaged pupil groups and identifying low-performing schools; are they burdensome, complex, inflexible, or variable; or do they have major “loopholes”? (3) Do AYP requirements embody appropriately challenging, or unrealistic, expectations that all pupils will perform at a proficient or higher level by 2014? Should “national standards” of pupil performance be incorporated into AYP determinations, as a way of addressing substantial differences in state performance standards? (4) Have assessment, AYP, and other accountability requirements been implemented by ED in a consistent and transparent manner? (5) Are requirements that public school choice options be offered to pupils at Title I-A public schools that fail to meet AYP for two consecutive years or more, and requirements that supplemental services must be offered to pupils from low-income families if a Title I-A school fails to meet AYP for an additional year, being effectively implemented, and should states or LEAs be allowed to reverse their order of application? (6) Are “corrective actions” and “restructuring” being effectively applied to Title I-A schools that continue to fail to meet AYP requirements for additional years after being identified as needing improvement? (7) What has been the impact of the increased targeting of Title I-A funds on relatively high-poverty LEAs? (8) Should Title I-A grants be funded at the maximum authorized level, at what level should authorizations be set for years beyond FY2008, and should LEAs be required to meet increasing Title I-A requirements while experiencing flat or declining grant levels? This report will be updated regularly to reflect legislative and implementation developments. Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Outcome Accountability Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Pupil Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Assessments . . . . . . . . . . 10 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Disaggregation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Ultimate Goal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Participation Rate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Models of AYP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Confidence Intervals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Other AYP Provisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Data on Schools Identified as Failing to Meet AYP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding AYP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Program Improvement, Corrective Actions, and Restructuring . . . . . . . . . . 32 School Improvement and Corrective Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 LEA Improvement and Corrective Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Differentiated Accountability Pilot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Possible Reauthorization Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Regulations Published in October 2008 Regarding Title I-A Assessments and Accountability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Graduation Rates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Choice and Supplemental Educational Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 School Improvement, Corrective Action, and Restructuring . . . . . . . . 41 Group Size-Related Provisions in State AYP Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Assessments and Accountability Policies in General . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Staff Qualifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Teacher Qualifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Qualification Requirements for Paraprofessionals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Title I-A Paraprofessional Qualification Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Services to Private School Pupils, Staff, and Parents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Title I-A Private School Participation Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Fiscal Accountability, Particularly Comparability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Fiscal Accountability . . . 49 Title I-A Allocation Formulas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 General Characteristics of the Title I-A Allocation Formulas . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Targeting on High-Poverty LEAs Under the Four Title I-A Formulas . . . . 57 FY2007-FY2009 Funding for Title I-A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 FY2007 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 FY2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 FY2009 Budget Request . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Appropriations Authorization Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 FY2008Allocation Patterns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Title I-A Allocation Formulas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 List of Figures Figure 1. Share of ESEA Title I-A Funds Allocated to LEAs by Poverty Rate Quintile, FY2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Figure 2. ESEA Title I-A Appropriations and Authorizations, FY2001-FY2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 List of Tables Table 1. Reported Percentage of Public Schools and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) Failing to Make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the Basis of Spring 2007 Assessment Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Table 2. Brief Summary of ESEA Title I-A Allocation Formula Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Table 3. Share of ESEA Title I-A Funds Allocated to LEAs by LEA Poverty Rate Quintile, FY2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Table 4. FY2007-FY2009 Appropriations for ESEA Title I, Part A . . . . . . . . . 61 Education for the Disadvantaged: Reauthorization Issues for ESEA Title I-A Under the No Child Left Behind Act Introduction Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) authorizes federal aid to local educational agencies (LEAs) for the education of disadvantaged children. Title I-A grants provide supplementary educational and related services to low-achieving and other pupils attending pre-kindergarten through grade 12 schools with relatively high concentrations of pupils from low-income families. Title I-A is the largest federal elementary and secondary education assistance program, with services provided to (1) more than 90% of all LEAs; (2) approximately 52,000 (54% of all) public schools; and (3) approximately 16.5 million (34% of all) pupils, including approximately 188,000 pupils attending private schools. Three-fourths of all pupils served are in pre-kindergarten through grade 6, while only 8% of pupils served are in grades 10-12. The ESEA was initially adopted in 1965, and was most recently reauthorized and amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), P.L. 107-110. NCLB authorized Title I-A through FY2007, and a one-year automatic extension, through FY2008, has been provided under the General Education Provisions Act (Title IV of P.L. 90-247, as amended). The 110th Congress has been considering whether to extend and amend the ESEA, although the probability of final action on such legislation in 2008 now seems very low. If, as is widely assumed, appropriations are provided for Title I-A for FY2009, the program will continue under current policies. On January 24, 2007, the Bush Administration released “Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act,”1 which outlines its recommendations for ESEA reauthorization. Key recommendations in the document, which is referred to in this report as the “Bush Administration’s Reauthorization Blueprint,” are mentioned in relevant places in this report. And in April 2008, the Administration announced a series of proposed regulations affecting major assessment and accountability policies under NCLB; these are discussed below in a section following a review of the current assessment and accountability policies. 1 The document is available at [http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/nclb/buildingonresults. pdf]. CRS-2 NCLB substantially expanded Title I-A provisions requiring participating states2 to adopt content and pupil performance standards, and assessments linked to these; and to identify, and take specified actions with respect to, low-performing schools and LEAs. The ESEA Title I-A requirements discussed in this report apply only to states that receive funds under this program. If a state chose to terminate its participation in Title I-A, none of the requirements discussed in this report would apply to that state. Of course, such a state would lose a significant amount of funding, since Title I-A is the largest federal K-12 education program. In addition, such a state might also lose some or all of its funds under several other ESEA programs, under which grants are allocated to states using formulas that are linked to the Title I-A formulas.3 Currently, all states participate in the Title I-A program. As with states, individual LEAs might choose to terminate their participation in Title I-A, in order to attempt to avoid implementing the requirements discussed in this report. However, even if it received no Title I-A grants, most of the requirements discussed in this report would continue to apply to an LEA if its state continues to participate in Title I-A. This includes the assessment, adequate yearly progress (AYP), and report card requirements, which apply to all public schools and LEAs in states receiving Title I-A grants. An LEA that refuses Title I-A funds might be released only from the program improvement, corrective action, and restructuring requirements discussed in this report.4 In addition, as with states, such an LEA would presumably lose funds under not only Title I-A but also several other ESEA programs under which allocations are based on those under Title I-A. This report provides an overview of aspects of ESEA Title I-A that have been the focus of substantial debate as the 110th Congress considers whether to extend and amend the ESEA. Other CRS reports provide more detailed discussions and analyses of selected major aspects of the program, including pupil assessments,5 accountability,6 and qualifications for teachers and paraprofessionals.7 Also, see CRS 2 Throughout this report, unless noted otherwise, this term includes the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, in addition to the 50 states. 3 These include, for example, the Even Start, Improving Teacher Quality State Grant, Educational Technology State Grant, Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities, and 21st Century Community Learning Center programs. 4 Under NCLB, states are encouraged to apply program improvement, corrective action, and restructuring requirements to all LEAs and public schools, but are required to apply them only to LEAs and schools that participate in Title I-A. Actual state policies vary in this respect. 5 See CRS Report RL31407, Educational Testing: Implementation of ESEA Title I-A Requirements Under the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle. 6 See CRS Report RL32495, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle; CRS Report RL33032, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Growth Models Under the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle; and CRS Report RL31329, Supplemental Educational Services for Children from Low-Income Families Under ESEA Title I-A, by David P. Smole. 7 See CRS Report RL33333, A Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom: (continued...) CRS-3 Report RL33371, K-12 Education: Implementation Status of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110), coordinated by Gail McCallion, for a concise review and analysis of major requirements initiated under all NCLB programs. This report will be updated regularly to reflect significant actions regarding the consideration of reauthorization proposals as well as continuing activities regarding funding and implementation of NCLB provisions. In summary, major Title I-A reauthorization issues are likely to include the following. Most of these and related issues are discussed in this report; in some cases, the reader is directed to other CRS reports for a more thorough discussion and analysis of specific issues. 7 ! What has been the impact of the assessment requirements adopted in 2001, and should these be extended further to include additional subject areas or more assessments of high school students? ! Are AYP requirements appropriately focused on improving education for disadvantaged pupils and identifying low-performing schools? Are they unnecessarily burdensome, complex, inflexible, and variable? Do the AYP provisions have major “loopholes” resulting in the achievement of too many pupils, especially the disadvantaged, not being directly or specifically taken into consideration? ! Do AYP requirements embody appropriately challenging, or unrealistic, expectations that all pupils will perform at a proficient or higher level by 2014? Should “national standards” of pupil performance be incorporated in some fashion into AYP determinations, as a way of addressing apparently substantial differences in state performance standards? ! Have assessment, AYP, and other accountability requirements been implemented by ED in a consistent and transparent manner? ! Are requirements that (a) public school choice options be offered to pupils at Title I-A public schools that fail to meet AYP for two consecutive years or more, and (b) supplemental services must be offered to pupils from low-income families if a Title I-A school fails to meet AYP for an additional year (three or more cumulative years), being effectively implemented, and should states or LEAs be allowed to reverse their order of application? ! Are “corrective actions” and “restructuring” being effectively applied to Title I-A schools that continue to fail to meet AYP (...continued) Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, and CRS Report RS22545, Paraprofessional Quality and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, both by Jeffrey J. Kuenzi. CRS-4 requirements for additional years after being identified as needing improvement? ! What has been the impact of the increased targeting of Title I-A funds on relatively high-poverty LEAs; and of lowering the eligibility threshold for schoolwide programs to 40% or more of pupils from low-income families? ! Should Title I-A grants be funded at the maximum authorized level; at what level should authorizations be set for years beyond FY2008; and should a substantial proportion of LEAs be required to meet increasing Title I-A requirements while experiencing flat or declining grant levels? Outcome Accountability Requirements Pupil Assessment8 The current generation of pupil assessment requirements under ESEA Title I-A began with the Improving America’s Schools Act (IASA) of 1994 (P.L. 103-382), that required participating states to develop or adopt curriculum content standards, pupil performance standards, and assessments linked to these, at least in the subjects of mathematics and reading/English language arts,9 and for at least one grade in each of three grade ranges (grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12). In general, these standards and assessments were to be applicable to Title I-A participants, as well as all other pupils in the state. These requirements were adopted in part to raise expectations that Title I-A participants would be required to meet challenging academic standards, and to link the program to standards-based reforms taking place in most states.10 Under the IASA, the deadline for adopting content and performance standards was the 1997-1998 program year, and for assessments was the 2000-2001 program year. States were given several years to meet these requirements because many of them were at an early stage of standards-based reform in 1994. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) reviewed “evidence” that state standards and assessments met the requirements of the Title I-A statute (e.g., that assessments are linked to state content and pupil performance standards, or that disabled and limited English proficient 8 For a more detailed discussion of, and analysis of issues related to, the Title I-A assessment requirements, see CRS Report RL31407, Educational Testing: Implementation of ESEA Title I-A Requirements Under the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle. 9 In general, reading/English language arts assessments will be referred to simply as reading assessments in this report. 10 Typically, standards-based reform involves the establishment of explicit and “challenging” goals for state school systems, and alignment of curricula, assessment methods, pupil performance standards, teacher professional development, instructional materials, and other major school system policies in support of the goals. CRS-5 (LEP) pupils are assessed with appropriate accommodations or adaptations), but did not consider the substance of state standards and assessments.11 P.L. 107-110 substantially expanded these previous Title I-A assessment provisions. In addition to the requirement for assessments at three grade levels in reading and mathematics, all participating states were required to implement assessments, linked to state content and academic achievement standards, for all public school pupils in each of grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Participating states are also required to develop and implement assessments at three grade levels in science by the end of the 2007-2008 school year.12 P.L. 107-110 requires assessments to be of “adequate technical quality for each purpose required under [this] Act.”13 Assessment results must be provided to LEAs, schools, and teachers before the beginning of the subsequent school year, so that they might be available in a timely manner to make adequate yearly progress determinations for schools and LEAs. The primary rationale for requiring annual administration of standards-based tests in each of grades 3-8 is that the provision of timely information on the performance of pupils, schools, and LEAs throughout most of the elementary and middle school grades is of value for both diagnostic and accountability purposes. Arguably, such assessment results will improve the quality of the AYP determinations that are based primarily on the assessments, and help determine whether Title I-A is meeting its primary goals, such as reducing achievement gaps between disadvantaged and other pupils. At the same time, the expanded Title I-A assessment requirements might lead to a variety of educational “costs,” or unintended consequences. One such “cost” would be expanded federal influence on state and local education policies — such as assessment requirements attached to an aid program focused on disadvantaged pupils are broadly influencing policies regarding standards, assessments, and accountability affecting all pupils in participating states. In the majority of states that did not previously administer standards-based assessments in each of grades 3-8, their decision not to administer annual assessments may have resulted primarily from cost or time constraints, or the states may have determined that annual testing of this sort is not educationally appropriate, or at least that its benefits are not equal to the relevant costs. These costs may 11 Participating states must continue to meet these “1994 requirements,” in addition to additional assessment requirements under NCLB. 12 States were required to develop content and academic achievement standards at 3 grade levels in science by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. 13 Under regulations published in the Federal Register on July 5, 2002 (pp. 45038-45047), state assessments meeting the ESEA Title I-A requirements may include either criterionreferenced tests (CRTs) — tests that measure the extent to which pupils have mastered specified content (content standard) to a predetermined degree (achievement standard) — or norm-referenced tests (NRTs) — tests in which pupil performance is measured against that of other pupils, rather than against some fixed standard of performance — although any NRTs used must be augmented to incorporate the state’s content standards and have results expressed in terms of the state’s achievement standards. For further discussion of this and related issues, see CRS Report RL31407, Educational Testing: Implementation of ESEA Title I-A Requirements Under the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle. CRS-6 include an increased risk of “over-emphasis” on preparation for the tests, especially if the tests do not adequately assess the full range of knowledge and skills that schools are expected to impart. To the extent practicable, limited English proficient (LEP) pupils are to be assessed in the language and form most likely to yield accurate and reliable information on what they know and can do in academic content areas (in subjects other than English itself). However, pupils who have attended schools in the United States (excluding Puerto Rico) for three or more consecutive school years are to be assessed in English.14 In addition, states are to provide that their LEAs will annually assess the English language proficiency of their LEP pupils — including pupils’ oral, reading, and writing skills. In administering all required assessments, “reasonable” adaptations and accommodations are to be provided for students with disabilities, consistent with the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).15 Achievement standards associated with the required assessments must establish at least three performance levels for all pupils: advanced, proficient, and partially proficient (usually referred to as basic). If no agency or entity in a state has authority to establish statewide standards or assessments (as is the case for Iowa and possibly Nebraska), then the state may adopt either (a) statewide standards and assessments applicable only to Title I-A pupils and programs, or (b) a policy providing that each LEA receiving Title I-A grants will adopt standards and assessments that meet the requirements of Title I-A and are applicable to all pupils served by each such LEA. State educational agencies (SEAs) must provide evidence from a test publisher or other relevant source that their assessments are of adequate technical quality for the purposes required under Title I-A.16 Ongoing peer reviews of state assessment programs are being conducted to determine if they meet NCLB requirements to test pupils in each of grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics, and to adopt content and achievement standards in science. A letter sent to chief state school officers in April 14 LEAs may continue to administer assessments to pupils in non-English languages for up to five years if, on a case-by-case basis, they determine that this would likely yield more accurate information on what the students know and can do. 15 For further information on this and related topics, see CRS Report RL32913, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Interactions with Selected Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), by Richard N. Apling and Nancy Lee Jones. 16 Several statutory constraints have been placed on the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Education to enforce these standard and assessment requirements. First, the ESEA states that nothing in Title I shall be construed to authorize any federal official or agency to “mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s specific instructional content, academic achievement standards and assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction” (Sections 1905, 9526, and 9527). Second, states may not be required to submit their standards to the Secretary (Section 1111(b)(1)(A)) or to have their content or achievement standards approved or certified by the federal government (Section 9527(c)) in order to receive funds under the ESEA, other than the (limited) review necessary in order to determine whether the state meets the Title I-A technical requirements. Finally, no state plan may be disapproved by ED on the basis of specific content or achievement standards or assessment items or instruments (Section 1111(e)(1)(F)). CRS-7 2006 by the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education17 describes the current categories of results from the state reviews. These categories, and the number of states in each category as of the publication date of this report, include the following: ! Full Approval. Meets all statutory and regulatory requirements (24 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). ! Full Approval with Recommendations. Meets all statutory and regulatory requirements, but ED makes selected recommendations for improvement (three states: Indiana, North Carolina, and Utah). ! Approval Expected. “Evidence to date” suggests that the state’s assessment system is fully compliant with the statutory and regulatory requirements, but some elements of the system were not complete as of July 1, 2006. The state must provide evidence of compliance with remaining requirements before administering its assessments for the 2006-2007 school year (five states: Connecticut, Maine, New Mexico, New York, and Rhode Island, plus the District of Columbia). ! Approval Pending. A limited number (generally one to three) of fundamental components of the state assessment system fail to meet the statutory or regulatory requirements (18 states — all of those not listed in another category, plus Puerto Rico). Peer reviews are continuing for the states whose assessment systems have not yet been fully approved. States in the last two categories above (Approval Pending and Not Approved) face the possibility of the loss of Title I-A administrative funds (25% in the case of the two “not approved” states, 10% or 15% in the case of “approval pending” states), plus the additional sanctions of limitations on approval of flexibility requests, and heightened oversight by ED. According to ED, funds withheld (from the SEA) would be distributed to LEAs in the state. In addition, states that persistently and thoroughly fail to meet the standard and assessment requirements over an extended period of time potentially may be subject to elimination of their Title I-A grants altogether, since they would be out of compliance with a basic program requirement. State Participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NCLB provides that all states participating in Title I-A are required to participate in state NAEP tests in 4th and 8th grade reading and mathematics, which are to be administered every two years. NAEP is administered 17 See [http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/saapr3.pdf]. CRS-8 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), with oversight and several aspects of policy established by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). The primary NAEP assessment reports pupil scores in relation to performance levels based on determinations by NAGB of what pupils should know and be able to do at basic, proficient, and advanced levels with respect to challenging subject matter. All NAEP tests are administered to only a representative sample of pupils enrolled in public and private K-12 schools, and the tests are designed so that no pupil takes an entire NAEP test. Since no individual pupil takes an entire NAEP test, it is impossible for NAEP, as currently designed, to report individual pupil scores. In addition, while individual pupils may not be required to take NAEP tests, there are conflicting statutory and regulatory provisions regarding the voluntary nature of participation in NAEP tests by LEAs and schools.18 Although NAEP cannot currently provide assessment results for individual pupils, the levels at which scores could be provided depend on the size and specificity of the sample group of pupils tested. NAEP has always provided scores for the nation as a whole and four multistate regions. Beginning in 1990, NAEP has conducted state-level assessments in 4th and 8th grade mathematics, reading and, beginning in 1996, science. Under state NAEP, the sample of pupils tested is increased in order to provide reliable estimates of achievement scores for pupils in each participating state. Before enactment of NCLB, participation in NAEP was voluntary for states; the additional cost associated with state NAEP administration was borne by the states; and, after participating in any state NAEP test, states could separately decide whether to allow the release of NAEP results for their state. The costs of testing expanded pupil samples in the states under NAEP are paid by the federal government. An implicit purpose of this requirement is to “confirm” trends in pupil achievement, as measured by state-selected assessments,19 although such “confirmation” is highly limited and indirect, usually limited to comparisons (by non-ED analysts) of the percentage of pupils at various achievement levels on NAEP and state tests. Agents of the federal government are prohibited from using NAEP assessments to influence state or LEA instructional programs or assessments. Results of the initial rounds of these tests were released in the fall of 2003, 2005, and 2007. 18 NCLB explicitly provides that participation in NAEP tests is voluntary for all pupils, but it contains conflicting provisions regarding voluntary participation by LEAs and schools. The NAEP authorization statute (redesignated as Section 303 of the Education Sciences Reform Act by P.L. 107-279) states that participation is voluntary for LEAs and schools, as well as pupils. However, ESEA Title I-A provides that the plans of LEAs receiving aid under that program must include an assurance that they will participate in state NAEP tests if selected (Section 1112(b)(1)(F)). Further, regulations (Federal Register, December 2, 2002) explicitly require LEAs that receive Title I-A grants to participate in NAEP if selected (34 C.F.R. § 200.11(b)), and ED comments accompanying these regulations state that “an LEA cannot meet the NAEP participation requirement unless it requires all schools selected to participate” (Federal Register, December 2, 2002, p. 71740). 19 See Using the National Assessment of Educational Progress to Confirm State Test Results, prepared by an Ad Hoc Committee on Confirming Test Results, National Assessment Governing Board, at [http://www.nagb.org/]. CRS-9 Reporting Assessment Results to Parents and the Public. States and LEAs participating in Title I-A must report assessment results and certain other data to parents and the public through “report cards.” States are to publish report cards for the state overall, and LEAs are to publish report cards for the LEA overall and for individual schools. The report cards must generally include information on pupils’ academic performance disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and gender, as well as disability, migrant, English proficiency, and economic disadvantage status. The report cards must also include information on pupil progress toward meeting any other educational indicators included in the state’s AYP standards, plus secondary school student graduation rates, the number and identity of any schools failing to meet AYP standards, and aggregate information on the qualifications of teachers. The report cards may include additional information, such as average class size or the incidence of school violence. LEA and school report cards are to be disseminated to parents of public school pupils and to the public at large; there are no specific provisions regarding dissemination of the state report cards. Assessment Development Grants. The ESEA authorizes (in Title VI-A1) annual grants to the states to help pay the costs of meeting the Title I-A standard and assessment requirements. These grants may be used by states for development of standards and assessments or, if these have been developed, for assessment administration and such related activities as developing or improving assessments of the English language proficiency of LEP pupils. Implementation of the state assessment requirements that were newly adopted under NCLB has been contingent upon the appropriation of minimum annual (“trigger”) amounts for these state assessment grants; for each of FY2002-FY2008, at least the minimum amount has been appropriated for these grants. (For FY2007, the minimum is $400 million, and the appropriation is $407.6 million.) NCLB also authorizes competitive grants to states for the development of enhanced assessment instruments. Aided activities may include efforts to improve the quality, validity, and reliability of assessments beyond the levels required by Title I-A, to track student progress over time, or to develop performance or technologybased assessments. Funds appropriated each year for state assessment grants that are in excess of the “trigger” amounts described above for assessment development grants are to be used for enhanced assessment grants. For FY2007, $7.6 million is available for assessment development grants. Bush Administration Reauthorization Proposals. The Bush Administration’s Reauthorization Blueprint contains two proposals regarding the ESEA Title I-A assessment provisions. First, participating states would be required to develop content and performance standards in English and math covering two additional years of high school by 2010-11, and assessments linked to these standards by 2012-13. The assessments would include a pair of 11th grade assessments of college readiness in reading and math. However, states would be required only to report the results of these assessments, not to use them for adequate yearly progress determinations. In addition, states receiving Title I-A grants would be required to include NAEP results, along with results on state assessments, on state report cards, to facilitate cross-state comparisons of achievement levels. CRS-10 Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Assessments. Issues regarding the expanded ESEA Title I-A pupil assessment requirements include 20 ! Should requirements for standards-based assessments in states participating in ESEA Title I-A be expanded for senior high school students? As discussed above, the current assessment requirements are focused primarily, although not solely, on the elementary and middle school grades. In the Administration’s High School Initiative and elsewhere, proposals have been offered to expand required assessments for pupils in grades 10-12, in part to strengthen the process of determining adequate yearly progress for senior high schools. This would include required state participation in a 12th grade NAEP assessment. However, the substantial variation in senior high school instructional programs raises many issues, including the following: Might the required assessments include high school exit or graduation tests? Given the relatively high degree of curriculum differentiation at the senior high school level (e.g., career and technical education programs, advanced placement courses, and so forth) might states be allowed to meet these requirements by adopting different types of tests for pupils in different types of academic programs? Might Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests be used to meet the new assessment requirements for pupils participating in those programs? ! Has the emphasis on standards-based assessments of reading and mathematics achievement in the Title I-A assessment and adequate yearly progress requirements (see below) begun to “crowd out” the level of time and attention devoted to other subject areas, such as writing, science, history, civics, or foreign languages, or skills in any subject area that are not typically covered by state assessments? Concern has been expressed by some, and there is evidence,20 that the emphasis placed on reading and mathematics through the Title I-A assessment and adequate yearly progress requirements has reduced time and energy devoted to other subject areas for many students. Others have argued that emphasis on the skills and knowledge typically covered by standards-based state mathematics and reading assessments has resulted in more narrowly prescriptive instruction overall, reducing instructional time devoted to the development of higher level analytical skills, pupil creativity, or research projects. These concerns may lead to proposals to either de-emphasize the current requirements, or to expand the assessment requirements to include more subjects in more grades or a wider range of pupil skills. ! What is the financial cost of developing and implementing the required assessments, and to what extent have federal grants been Center on Education Policy, “Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in the NCLB Era,” July 2007. CRS-11 available to pay for them? The addition of requirements to conduct annual assessments of mathematics and reading achievement in at least four more grades than required previously, and to include standards and assessments at three grade levels in science, has caused most states to significantly increase their expenditures for standard and test development and administration. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to specify all of these costs with precision. NCLB conference report directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the costs to each state of developing and administering the assessments required under Title I-A; it found that the funding provided under NCLB assessment development grants would cover all estimated state costs only if states used only multiple choice questions that can be machine scored. Otherwise, if states used a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions, GAO estimated that the assessment development grants would cover 51-69% of state test development costs, excluding possible costs of developing alternate assessments for pupils with disabilities or English proficiency tests for LEP pupils.21 Studies by non-government organizations of the costs of meeting NCLB assessment requirements, and of whether those costs exceed the aggregate level of assessment development funds provided under NCLB, have reached contradictory results. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Requirements22 Since the 1988 reauthorization of the ESEA (P.L. 100-297), the accountability provisions of Title I-A have been increasingly focused on achievement and other outcomes for participating pupils and schools. Since the subsequent ESEA reauthorization in 1994 (IASA, P.L. 103-382), and especially under NCLB (P.L. 107110), a key concept embodied in these outcome accountability requirements is that of AYP for schools, LEAs, and (with much less emphasis) states overall. The primary purpose of AYP requirements is to serve as the basis for identifying schools and LEAs where performance is inadequate, so that these inadequacies may be addressed, first through provision of increased support and opportunities for families to exercise choice to transfer to another school or obtain supplemental services from a third-party provider, and ultimately through a series of more substantial consequences (described in later sections of this report). These actions are to be taken with respect to schools or LEAs that fail to meet AYP for two consecutive years or more; no action need be taken with respect to a school or LEA that fails to meet AYP standards for only one year. 21 Government Accountability Office. Characteristics of Tests Will Influence Expenses; Information Sharing May Help States Realize Efficiencies. GAO-03-389. May 2003. 22 For a more detailed discussion of, and analysis of issues related to, the Title I-A AYP requirements, see CRS Report RL32495, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle, and CRS Report RL33032, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Growth Models Under the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle. CRS-12 Through NCLB, the Title I-A requirements for state-developed standards of AYP became both more broad in scope and substantially more detailed. NCLB provisions regarding AYP were adopted largely in reaction to perceived weaknesses with the AYP requirements of the 1994 IASA. The latter were frequently criticized as being vague, lacking a required specific focus on disadvantaged pupil groups, failing to require continuous improvement toward an ultimate goal, and being applicable only to schools and LEAs participating in Title I-A, not to states overall or to all public schools. Before the enactment of NCLB, there was tremendous variation among the states in the impact of their AYP standards — namely, the number and percentage of Title I-A schools and LEAs identified as failing to meet AYP standards. Somewhat ironically, as is discussed later in this report, there continues to be a great deal of variation among states in this respect, in spite of the extensive NCLB-based efforts to make AYP policies more consistent. Through the interaction of ED regulations and other forms of policy guidance, as well as innovation in the states, NCLB’s policies on AYP have evolved over the years, in several respects becoming more flexible as well as more complex and varied. The discussion below will refer to current AYP policies as established through a combination of the authorizing statute, regulations, and ED policy guidance. For a discussion of how current policies evolved over time, see CRS Report RL32495, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne C. Riddle. Under NCLB, AYP is defined primarily on the basis of multiple aggregations of pupil scores on required state assessments of academic achievement in mathematics and reading, generally with a specific focus on the percentage of pupils scoring at a proficient or higher level of achievement, on the basis of statedetermined standards of proficiency.23 State AYP standards must also include at least one additional academic indicator. In the case of high schools, this additional indicator must be the graduation rate; for elementary and middle schools, the attendance rate is often selected by states to be the additional indicator. The additional indicators may not be employed in a way that would reduce the number of schools or LEAs identified as failing to meet AYP standards. Disaggregation. AYP calculations based on assessment scores24 must be disaggregated — that is, they must be determined separately and specifically for not only all pupils but also for several demographic groups of pupils within each school, LEA, and state. The specified demographic groups (often referred to as subgroups), in addition to the “all pupils” group, are ! ! economically disadvantaged pupils, LEP pupils, 23 As noted earlier, NCLB requires states participating in Title I-A to administer standardsbased assessments in science at 3 grade levels by the end of the 2007-08 school year. While statutory provisions are somewhat ambiguous on this point, it does not appear that states will be required, under current ED policy, to incorporate results from these science assessments into their AYP determinations. 24 The graduation rate or other additional academic indicators need not be disaggregated. CRS-13 ! ! pupils with disabilities, and pupils in major racial and ethnic groups.25 However, there are three major constraints on the consideration of these pupil groups in AYP calculations. First, pupil groups need not be considered in cases where their number is so relatively small that achievement results would not be statistically significant or the identity of individual pupils might be divulged. The selection of the minimum number (“n”) of pupils in a group for the group to be considered in AYP determinations26 has been left largely to state discretion, and state policies regarding “n” have varied widely. The minimum size for pupil groups to be separately considered (beyond the “all pupils” group) in AYP determinations for schools or LEAs may be as low as 5 pupils or, in some circumstances, as many as 200.27 In addition, the minimum group size policies of several states take into account not only the number of pupils in each group but also their size as a percentage of all pupils. Since minimum group size policies are applied to schools and to LEAs overall, groups that are too small to be separately considered for individual schools are often considered at the LEA level. Further, some states have established different (higher) minimum group sizes for LEP pupils or pupils with disabilities than for other pupil groups. However, under regulations published on April 9, 2007, states would no longer be allowed to use varying minimum group sizes for different demographic groups of pupils. This will prohibit the setting of higher “n” sizes for pupils with disabilities or LEP pupils than for other pupil groups in the future. Second, it has been left to the states to define the “major racial and ethnic groups” on the basis of which AYP must be calculated.28 Some states have identified relatively few different “major ethnic and racial groups” (e.g., Black, White, and 25 In a September 29, 2005, letter to all CSSOs (see [http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/ secletter/050929.html]), the Secretary of Education stated that LEAs and schools affected by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes could establish a separate subgroup for displaced students in AYP determinations based on assessments administered during the 2005-2006 school year. Pupils would appear only in the evacuee subgroup, not in other demographic subgroups (e.g., economically disadvantaged or LEP). Waivers could be requested in 2006 to allow schools or LEAs to meet AYP requirements if only the test scores of the evacuee subgroup would prevent them from making AYP. In any case, all such students must still be assessed and the assessment results reported to the public. 26 States frequently establish lower minimum group size thresholds for reporting purposes (as opposed to AYP determinations). 27 A small number of states have no specific minimum group size policy, rather they rely solely on “confidence intervals,” as discussed later in this report, to address statistical and privacy concerns. 28 On August 7, 2006, ED published in the Federal Register (pages 44866-44871) “Proposed Guidance on Maintaining, Collecting and Reporting Data on Race and Ethnicity to the U.S. Department of Education.” While this guidance would standardize racial and ethnic categories for a variety of purposes related to ED programs and activities, it provides that “States will continue to have discretion in determining which racial and ethnic groups will be used for accountability and reporting purposes under the ESEA” (p. 44867). CRS-14 Hispanic pupils) while others have identified several more separate groups (e.g., Native American, Filipino, Pacific Islander, Other Asian pupils). In many cases, there is an interaction between the number of ethnic and racial groups separately identified and minimum group size policies: the larger the number of separate groups, the less likely that minimum group size thresholds will be met. And third, pupils who have not attended the same school for a full year29 need not be considered in determining AYP at the school level, although they are still to be included in LEA and state AYP determinations, if they attended schools in the same LEA or state for the full academic year. A number of special rules, which have evolved over time, apply to two of the disaggregated pupil groups: LEP pupils and pupils with disabilities. LEP pupils who have attended schools in the United States (other than Puerto Rico) for less than 12 months must participate in English language proficiency and mathematics tests (plus science assessments beginning in 2007-2008), but the participation of such pupils in reading tests (in English), as well as the inclusion of any of these pupils’ test scores (in reading or mathematics) in AYP calculations, is optional. Further, in AYP determinations, schools and LEAs may continue to include pupils in the LEP demographic category for up to two years after they have attained proficiency in English. However, these formerly LEP pupils need not be included when determining whether a school or LEA’s count of LEP pupils meets the state’s minimum size threshold for separate inclusion of the group in AYP calculations, and scores of formerly LEP pupils may not be included (as part of the LEP pupil group) in state, LEA, or school report cards. An especially high degree of attention has been devoted to assessment and AYP policies regarding pupils with disabilities. While a few general provisions apply to all pupils with disabilities — primarily that accommodations be provided where appropriate in the administration of assessments to these pupils — a series of special provisions apply specifically to two particular groups of pupils with disabilities. The first set of special provisions applies to pupils “with the most significant cognitive disabilities.” For a limited number of such pupils (a maximum of 1.0% of all tested pupils, or approximately 9% of all pupils with disabilities, at the state and LEA level30), states and LEAs may adopt alternate assessments on the basis of alternate achievement standards. A separate ED policy is focused on pupils with “persistent academic disabilities,” whose ability to perform academically is assumed to be greater than that of the pupils with “the most significant cognitive disabilities,” but below that of other pupils with disabilities. In ED’s terminology, these pupils 29 This is defined in state accountability plans, and is typically from some point in October until the administration of state assessments. 30 There is no limit for individual schools. SEAs may request from the U.S. Secretary of Education an exception allowing them to exceed the 1.0% cap statewide, and SEAs may grant such exceptions to LEAs within their state. In the absence of a waiver, the number of pupils scoring at the proficient level or higher on alternate assessments, on the basis of alternate achievement standards, in excess of the 1.0% limit is to be added to those scoring below proficient in LEA or state level AYP determinations. CRS-15 may be assessed using alternate assessments on the basis of modified achievement standards. Under a short-term policy, applicable to states that are still developing modified academic achievement standards and alternate assessments based on these, schools and LEAs that would otherwise fail to meet AYP standards due solely to their pupils with disabilities group may add to their proficient pupil count a number of pupils with disabilities equal to 2.0% of all pupils assessed. Alternatively, in eligible states that have adopted modified achievement standards, schools and LEAs may include in their AYP calculations the proficient scores for pupils with disabilities on these assessments, subject to a 2.0% (of all assessed pupils) cap at the LEA and state levels.31 As with the 1.0% cap for pupils with the most significant cognitive disabilities, this 2.0% cap does not apply to individual schools. Ultimate Goal. State AYP standards must incorporate concrete movement toward meeting an ultimate goal of all pupils reaching a proficient or higher (advanced) level of achievement within 12 years, which is by the end of the 20132014 school year. The steps or required levels of achievement toward meeting this goal (annual measurable objectives, or AMOs) must increase in “equal increments” over time. The first increase in the thresholds must occur after no more than two years, and remaining increases at least once every three years. Several states have accommodated this requirement in ways that require much more rapid progress in the later years of the period leading up to 2013-2014 than in the earlier period (i.e., the increments are equal, but occur annually at the end of this period but only once every two or three years at the beginning). Participation Rate. NCLB AYP provisions include an assessment participation rate requirement. In order for a school to meet AYP standards, at least 95% of all pupils, as well as at least 95% of each of the demographic groups of pupils considered for AYP determinations for the school or LEA, must participate in each of the assessments that serve as the primary basis for AYP determinations. Participation rates may be averaged over a two- or three-year period, and pupils who fail to participate in assessments due to a “significant medical emergency” may be excluded from the participation rate calculations. States may allow pupils who miss a primary assessment date to take make-up tests. Under regulations published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2007, when pupils take state assessments multiple times, it is no longer required that only the first test administration be used in AYP determinations; states and LEAs could use the highest score for pupils who take tests more than once. The participation rate requirements were adopted in part to emphasize the intent that the assessment systems and AYP determinations should involve all pupils, and to minimize opportunities for schools or LEAs to raise their test scores by discouraging pupils from participating in the tests. 31 On April 9, 2007, ED published final regulations embodying the longer-term policy for this group of pupils with disabilities. Also under these regulations, as with LEP pupils, states and LEAs could include the test scores of former pupils with disabilities in the disability subgroup for up to two years after such pupils have exited special education. In such cases, the former pupils with disabilities would not have to be counted in determining whether the minimum group size was met for the disability subgroup. CRS-16 Models of AYP. The basic structure of most AYP models falls into one of three general categories. The three basic structural forms for AYP of schools or LEAs are the group status, successive group improvement, and individual/cohort growth models. In the context of these terms, “group” (or “subgroup,” in the case of detailed demographic categories) refers to a collection of pupils that is identified by their grade level and usually other demographic characteristics (e.g., race, ethnicity, or economic disadvantage) as of a point in time. The actual pupils in a “group” may change substantially, or even completely, from one year to the next. In contrast, a “cohort” refers to a collection of pupils in which the same pupils are followed from year to year. The key characteristic of the group status model is a required threshold level of achievement that is the same for all pupil groups, schools, and LEAs statewide in a given subject and grade level. Under this model, performance at a point in time is compared to a benchmark at that time, with no direct consideration of changes over a previous period. “Status” models emphasize the importance of meeting certain minimum levels of achievement for all pupil groups, schools, and LEAs, and arguably apply consistent expectations to all. The key characteristic of the successive group improvement model is a focus on the rate of change in achievement in a subject area from one year to the next among groups of pupils in a grade level at a school or LEA (e.g., the percentage of this year’s 5th grade pupils in a school who are at a proficient or higher level in mathematics compared to the percentage of last year’s 5th grade pupils who were at a proficient or higher level of achievement). Finally, the key characteristic of the individual/cohort growth model is a focus on the rate of change over time in the level of achievement among cohorts of the same pupils. Growth models are longitudinal, based upon the tracking of the same pupils as they progress through their K-12 education careers. Although the progress of pupils is tracked individually, results are typically aggregated when used for accountability purposes. In general, growth models would give credit for meeting steps along the way to proficiency in ways that a status model typically does not.32 The primary basic structure for AYP under NCLB is specified in the authorizing statute as a group status model.33 A “uniform bar” approach is employed: states are to set a threshold percentage of pupils at proficient or advanced levels each year that is applicable to all pupil subgroups of sufficient size to be considered in AYP determinations. The threshold levels of achievement are to be set separately for reading and math, and may be set separately for each level or grade span of K-12 education (elementary, middle, and high schools). The minimum starting point for the “uniform bar” in the initial period (2002-2003 and, in most states, 2003-2004) was to be the greater of the percentage of pupils at the proficient or advanced level 32 There is a variant of the group status model, sometimes called an “index model,” under which partial credit would be attributed to performance improvements below the proficient level — e.g., from below basic to basic. 33 For a discussion of the models of AYP, see CRS Report RL33032, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Growth Models Under the No Child Left Behind Act, by Wayne Riddle. CRS-17 of achievement for (a) the lowest-achieving pupil group in the base year (2001-02), or (b) the school at the 20th percentile (from the bottom) in the state. In determining whether scores for a group of pupils are at the required level, the averaging of scores over two or three years is allowed. In addition, NCLB statute includes a safe harbor provision, under which a school that does not meet the standard AYP requirements may still be deemed to meet AYP if it experiences a 10% reduction in the gap between 100% and the preceding year for the specific pupil groups that fail to meet the “uniform bar,”34 and those pupil groups also make progress on at least one other academic indicator included in the state’s AYP standards. This alternative provision adds successive group improvement as a secondary AYP model under NCLB. The third basic type of AYP model, the individual/cohort growth model, is not explicitly mentioned in NCLB statute. However, in November 2005, after officials in several states requested authority to use such a model to meet the AYP requirements of NCLB, the U.S. Secretary of Education announced a pilot program under which up to 10 states would be allowed to use growth models to make AYP determinations for the 2005-2006 and succeeding school years. In December 2007, the Secretary lifted the cap on the number of states that could participate in the growth model pilot. In addition to a variety of criteria applicable to all state AYP policies, under the proposed models: “achievement gaps” among pupil groups must decline in order for schools or LEAs to meet AYP standards; annual achievement goals for pupils must not be set on the basis of pupil background or school characteristics; annual achievement goals must be based on performance standards, not past or “typical” performance growth rates; the assessment system must produce comparable results from grade to grade and year to year; and the progress of individual students must be tracked within a state data system. In addition, applicant states must have their annual assessments for each of grades 3-8 approved by ED, and these assessments must have been in place for at least one year previous to the first year of implementation of the growth model. According to ED, 20 states have submitted applications to be allowed to use growth models to make AYP determinations beginning with either the 2005-2006 or 2006-2007 school years.35 Two states, North Carolina and Tennessee, were approved to use proposed growth models in making AYP determinations on the basis of assessments administered in the 2005-2006 school year. Nine additional states — 34 For example, assume the percentage of a school’s pupils in a designated subgroup (meeting minimum group size criteria) scoring at a proficient or higher level on state mathematics assessments is 40% in one year, and 47% in the following year, while the AMO for the second year is 49%. This group would not meet the standard AYP threshold for year two (47% is below 49%), but would meet the safe harbor criterion (10% of the previous year gap between the group’s performance and 100% is 6 percentage points, so a score of 46% or above would satisfy the safe harbor provision). 35 One other state, Massachusetts, incorporates a partial growth element into its safe harbor provision. In that state, a school or LEA that fails to meet the standard AYP requirements still makes AYP if the number of pupils in relevant groups and subjects scoring below the proficient level declines by 10% or more from the previous year or declines sufficiently to put them on track toward proficiency by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. CRS-18 Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, and Michigan — have been approved to participate in the pilot program subsequently, contingent in the case of Ohio and Missouri on adoption of minimum group sizes for all pupil groups. 36 ! The North Carolina policy adds a projection component to the current group status model. If the achievement level of a nonproficient pupil is on a trajectory toward proficiency within four years, then the pupil is added to the proficient group. The trajectory calculations will be made for pupils in the 3rd through 8th grades. ! Under the Tennessee policy, schools and LEAs will have two options for meeting AYP: meeting either the AYP standards under the group status or successive group improvement models of current law, or meeting AYP standards according to a “projection model.” Under the projection model, pupils are deemed to be at a proficient or higher level of achievement if their test scores are projected to be at a proficient or higher level three years into the future, on the basis of past achievement levels for individual pupils. Tennessee’s projection model will not be applied to high schools. ! Under the Delaware growth model, AYP will be calculated each year on the basis of both the statutory provisions and using the state’s growth model, and a school will meet AYP standards if it qualifies using either method. Individual pupil performance will be tracked from one year to the next. Specified numbers of points will be awarded on the basis of changes (if any) in pupils’ performance level; points will be awarded for partial movement toward proficiency, but not for movement beyond proficiency. The average growth scores for schools and LEAs to meet AYP standards increase steadily until 2013-2014, by which time all pupils would be expected to achieve at a proficient or higher level.36 ! Under the Arkansas policy, AYP will be calculated each year on the basis of both statutory provisions and using the state’s growth model, and a school will meet AYP standards if it qualifies using either method. Under the growth model, pupils in grades 4-8 will be deemed to be proficient if they are on a growth path toward proficiency by the end of 8th grade. Pupils already proficient must be on a path to continue to be proficient through grade 8 (i.e., growth path criteria will be applied to all pupils, proficient and nonproficient). ! Under the Florida model, AYP will be determined separately for each pupil subgroup in each school or LEA (i.e., not for schools or Delaware’s proposal included use of confidence intervals at an unspecified level in implementing the growth model; however, ED approved use of the model without confidence intervals. CRS-19 LEAs as a whole) using the statutory models plus a growth model, and the school or LEA will meet AYP standards if each pupil subgroup makes AYP using any of the three models. Florida’s growth model will be essentially the same as the current status model except that proficient pupils will include both those currently scoring at a proficient or higher level and those who are on an individual path toward proficiency within three years. The model will be applied to AYP determinations for grades 3-10 (with some modifications for pupils in grade 3). ! Under the Iowa model, pupil tests score ranges below proficient have been divided into three categories: Hi Marginal, Lo Marginal, and Weak. A student who rises from one of these levels to a higher level, and has not previously attained the higher level, will be deemed to have met “Adequate Yearly Growth” (AYG). For schools and LEAs that have not met AYP though application of the standard status and safe harbor models, students making AYG will be added to those scoring proficient or above, and this combined total will be used in determining whether the school or LEA makes AYP for the year. Students beginning at the “Weak” level must reach proficiency within three years, those beginning at Lo Marginal must become proficient within two years, and those beginning at Hi Marginal must reach proficiency within one year. By 2014, the growth model would no longer be used, and all pupils will be expected to achieve at a proficient or higher level. ! Ohio has adopted a variation of the “projection” or “on track to proficiency” approach that is common to the North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida models. After application of the standard status and safe harbor models, if any pupil group fails to meet AYP, then a determination will be made if a sufficient proportion of pupils in the group is on track toward meeting the required proficiency threshold as of a “target grade.” In the case of elementary and middle schools, the target grade will be either the grade level following the highest grade offered by the school (i.e., for a K-5 school, the 6th grade), or four grades beyond the pupil’s current grade, whichever comes first. In the case of a high school, pupils would have to be on track toward proficiency by the 11th grade. Pupils currently scoring at a proficient level but who are projected to be below the proficient level by the target grade will not be considered to be proficient. ! Under Alaska’s growth model, pupils will be included in the proficient group if their achievement level trajectory is on a growth path toward proficiency within three additional years for pupils in grades 4-9, or within two additional years for pupils in grade 10. (Alaska currently has no standards-based assessments for grades beyond 10.) Pupils in the third grade (the earliest grade at which state assessments are administered) will be measured on the basis of CRS-20 status only, not growth. The growth model will not apply to pupils with disabilities who take alternate assessments. 37 ! In Arizona, the growth model will be applicable to pupils in grades 4-8 only. Pupils will be included in the proficient group if their achievement level trajectory is on a growth path toward proficiency within three years or by 8th grade, whichever comes first. Pupils in the third grade (the earliest grade at which state assessments are administered) will be measured on the basis of status only, not growth. Unlike some other states participating in the growth model pilot, pupils with disabilities who take the state’s alternate assessment will be included in the Arizona growth model. ! In Missouri, if students currently scoring below a proficient level are on track to be proficient within either four years or by 8th grade, whichever occurs first, they will be added to the number of students currently scoring at a proficient or higher level. Students in grades 3 and 8 will be evaluated on the basis of the status model and Safe Harbor only. No confidence intervals will be applied to growth model calculations. Only the current status and Safe Harbor models will used for AYP determinations for grades 9-12. Students with disabilities, including those taking the state’s alternate assessment for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities, will be included in the growth model, applying trajectories and achievement levels associated with either the regular or alternate assessments. ! In Michigan, students have been deemed to be proficient if their achievement test scores are at a proficient or advanced level, or if the scores of individual students are within two standard errors of measurement (in effect, a 95% confidence interval) of the test score cut point for proficiency37 (such students are considered to be “provisionally proficient”). The growth model adds a third category of students “on trajectory” toward proficiency. To determine whether students are on trajectory toward proficiency, each of the proficiency levels is divided into three sub-levels. Similar, but slightly different, procedures are applied to Michigan’s alternate assessment for students with mild cognitive impairment. The growth model does not cover high school students or students with disabilities taking alternate assessments who have moderate or severe cognitive impairment. If a student’s performance improves over the previous year by a number of sub-levels such that, if the improvement continued at the same rate in the future, they would reach proficiency within three years, they are counted as being on trajectory toward proficiency. Confidence intervals will not be applied to the growth model determinations. Most states use confidence intervals in their AYP determinations. However, in most cases, the confidence intervals are applied to group average percentages of students scoring proficient or above, not individual student scores. CRS-21 Overall, most of the growth models approved by ED thus far are based upon supplementing the number of pupils scoring at a proficient or higher level with those who are projected to be at a proficient level within a limited number of years. Nine of the eleven approved models follow this general approach. Among these states, a distinction may be made between seven states (North Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, and Michigan) that combine currently proficient pupils with those not proficient who are “on track” toward proficiency, and two states (Tennessee and Ohio) that consider only projected proficiency levels for all pupils (i.e., currently proficient pupils who are not on track to remain proficient are counted as not proficient). In contrast, the models used by two other states — Delaware and Iowa — focus on awarding credit for movement of pupils among achievement categories up to proficiency. Confidence Intervals. Many states have used the statistical technique of confidence intervals in an attempt to improve the validity and reliability of AYP determinations. Use of this technique also tends to have an effect, whether intentional or not, of substantially reducing the number of schools or LEAs identified as failing to meet AYP standards. Use of this statistical technique is not explicitly authorized by NCLB, but its inclusion in the accountability plans of a large majority of the states has been approved by ED. This concept is based on the assumption that any test administration represents a “sample survey” of pupils’ educational achievement level. As with all sample surveys, there is a degree of uncertainty regarding how well the sample results — average test scores for the pupil group38 — reflect pupils’ actual level of achievement. In practice, “confidence intervals” may be seen as “windows” surrounding a threshold test score level (i.e., the percentage of pupils at the proficient or higher level required under the state’s AYP standards).39 The size of the window varies with respect to the number of pupils in the relevant group who are tested, and with the desired degree of probability that the group’s average score represents their true level of achievement. This is analogous to the “margin of error” commonly reported along with public opinion polls. Unlike opinion poll results, test results are not based on a small sample of the relevant population, as the tests are to be administered to the full “universe” of pupils. However, the results from any particular test administration are considered to be only estimates of pupils’ true level of achievement, or estimates of the school’s or LEA’s “true” level of effectiveness in educating pupils in specified groups, and thus the “margin of error” or “confidence interval” concepts are deemed by many to be relevant to these test scores. The probability, or level of confidence, that a pupil group’s actual level of performance is within the designated range of scores is most often set at 95%, but in some cases may be as low at 90% or as high as 99%. If all other relevant factors are equal, the higher the desired degree of probability, the larger is the window surrounding the 38 Almost all states using confidence intervals apply them to group average percentage scoring proficient or above. However, at least one state, Michigan, applies a confidence interval instead to the scores of individual pupils. 39 Alternatively, the confidence interval “window” may be applied to average test scores for each relevant pupil group, that would be compared to a fixed threshold score level to determine whether AYP has been met. CRS-22 threshold percentage, especially if the size of the pupil group in question is small. A school would fail to make AYP with respect to a pupil group only if the average score for the group is below the lowest score in the “window.”40 The use of confidence intervals to determine whether group test scores fall below required thresholds to a statistically significant degree improves the validity of AYP determinations, and addresses the fact that test scores for any group of pupils will vary from one test administration to another, and these variations may be especially large for a relatively small group of pupils. At the same time, the use of confidence intervals reduces the likelihood that schools or (to a lesser extent) LEAs will be identified as failing to make AYP. Also, for small pupil groups and high levels of desired accuracy (especially a 99% probability), the size of confidence intervals may be quite large. Other AYP Provisions. AYP standards under NCLB must be applied to all public schools, LEAs, and to states overall, if a state chooses to receive Title I-A grants. However, consequences for failing to meet AYP standards (as discussed later in this report) need only be applied to schools and LEAs participating in Title I-A,41 and there are no sanctions for states overall beyond identification and the provision of technical assistance. Schools or LEAs meet AYP standards only if they meet the required threshold levels of performance on assessments, other academic indicators, and test participation with respect to all of the designated pupil groups that meet the minimum group size criterion. Schools and LEAs face a series of consequences — namely, they are identified as being in need of improvement — if they fail to meet AYP standards for two consecutive years or more. States may limit identification for improvement to schools that fail to meet AYP in the same subject area for two consecutive years or more, but not to schools that fail to meet AYP for the same pupil group and subject area. Finally, states may limit identification of LEAs for improvement to those that failed to meet AYP in the same subject area and across all three grade spans (elementary, middle and high) for two consecutive years or more. Data on Schools Identified as Failing to Meet AYP. A substantial amount of data has become available on the number of schools and LEAs that have failed to meet the AYP standards of the NCLB on the basis of assessments administered during the 2002-2003 through 2005-2006 school years, and several states are currently releasing preliminary data on the basis of 2006-2007 school year assessment results. A basic problem with these data is that they frequently have been 40 The text above describes the way in which confidence intervals have been used by states for AYP determinations. The concept could be applied in a different way, requiring scores to be at or above the highest score in the “window” in order to demonstrate that a pupil group had meet AYP standards to a statistically significant degree. This would reflect confidence (at the designated level of probability) that a school or LEA had met AYP standards, whereas the current usage reflects confidence that the school or LEA had failed to meet AYP standards. 41 States are encouraged to apply these consequences to all public schools, but are not required to do so. State practices vary on this point. CRS-23 incomplete and subject to change. Currently available compilations of state AYP data are discussed below in two categories: reports focusing on the number and percentage of schools failing to meet AYP standards for one or more years versus reports on the number and percentage of public schools and LEAs identified for improvement — that is, they had failed to meet AYP standards for at least two consecutive years. Schools Failing to Meet AYP Standards for One Year. Beginning with the 2002-2003 school year, data on the number of schools in each state that made or did not make AYP have been reported by the states to ED, in a series of Consolidated State Performance Reports. Until recently, these Reports were not disseminated by ED; however, the Consolidated State Performance Reports for the 2004-2005 through 2006-2007 school years have been made available by ED.42 According to these Consolidated State Performance Reports,43 for the nation overall, 28% of all public schools failed to make adequate yearly progress on the basis of assessment scores for the 2006-2007 school year. The percentage of public schools failing to make adequate yearly progress for 2006-2007 varied widely among the states, from 4% for Wisconsin and 6% for Wyoming to 75% for the District of Columbia and 66% for Florida. Table 1 provides the percentage of schools failing to make adequately yearly progress, on the basis of 2006-2007 assessment results, for each state. According to the “National Assessment of Title I: Final Report,” published by ED in October 2007, of schools failing to make AYP in the 2004-2005 school year, 43% did so with respect to achievement in reading or math (or both) for the “all pupils” group. In contrast, 40% of schools failing to make AYP did so on the basis of achievement in reading or math (or both) for one or more subgroups while making AYP with respect to achievement of the “all pupils” group. The remaining 17% of schools failing to make AYP that year did so with respect to test participation rates only (3%), “other academic indicator” only (4%), or other combinations of AYP criteria (10%). Among schools with numbers of pupils in each of the designated categories to meet the minimum group size criterion for their state, the percentage of schools failing to make AYP with respect to math or reading achievement in 20042005 was found to vary from 3% for the Asian or White pupil groups, 18% for Hispanic pupils, 23% for pupils from low-income families, 24% for LEP pupils, 26% for African-American pupils, and 38% for pupils with disabilities. 42 43 See [http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/consolidated/index.html]. For one state, Maine, these data were not available in the Consolidated State Performance Report, and were obtained directly from the state educational agency. CRS-24 Table 1. Reported Percentage of Public Schools and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) Failing to Make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the Basis of Spring 2007 Assessment Results State Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Reported Percentage of Rated Schools Not Making AYP, 2007 11 38 33 39 34 25 34 19 86 71 21 65 27 21 51 17 14 34 9 19 23 41 14 31 16 29 10 18 47 39 29 54 29 56 10 39 11 32 18 32 62 20 17 Reported Percentage of LEAs Not Making AYP, 2007 1 54 39 2 37 40 19 11 94 100 65 100 48 23 27 4 12 56 39 5 13 64 3 46 48 39 16 29 12 32 13 76 45 97 11 68 19 63 5 39 100 4 7 CRS-25 State Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsina Wyoming Puerto Rico National Average Reported Percentage of Rated Schools Not Making AYP, 2007 19 12 25 23 16 14 4 15 47 28 Reported Percentage of LEAs Not Making AYP, 2007 13 15 26 37 25 91 0 10 nab 30 Source: State Consolidated Performance Reports; see [http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/ consolidated/sy06-07part1/index.html]. a. Wisconsin reports two LEAs as failing to make AYP out of a total of 425 LEAs. b. NA = Not available. Thus, the national total percentage for LEAs excludes these. Schools Failing to Meet AYP Standards for Two Consecutive Years (and Any Additional Years). ED, in its “National Assessment of Title I: Final Report,” published in October 2007, reported that 11,648 public schools, including 9,808 Title I-A schools, were identified for improvement during the 2005-2006 school year, on the basis of assessment results through the 2004-2005 school year. These constituted 12% of all public schools or 18% of all Title I-A schools. Schools most likely to be identified were those in large, urban LEAs, schools with high pupil poverty rates, and schools with large minority enrollment. The percentage of both all and of Title I-A schools identified varied widely among the states, from less than 1% (of all)/1% (of Title I-A) schools in Nebraska to more than 40% of all schools in Hawaii, New Mexico, and Puerto Rico, or more than 50% of all Title I-A schools in Florida, New Mexico, and Puerto Rico. A theme reflected in these results is a high degree of state variation in the percentage of schools identified as failing to meet AYP standards or as needing improvement. These variations appear to be based, at least in part, not only on underlying differences in achievement levels but also on differences in the degree of rigor or challenge in state pupil performance standards, and on variations in statedetermined standards for the minimum size of pupil demographic groups in order for them to be considered in AYP determinations of schools or LEAs. (In general, larger minimum sizes for pupil demographic groups reduce the likelihood that many disadvantaged groups, such as LEP pupils or pupils with disabilities, will be considered in determining whether a school or LEA meets AYP.) Such large state variations are somewhat ironic, given that one of the purposes of including more detailed and specific statutory provisions for AYP in NCLB was to establish greater consistency among states in the number of schools identified. As a result of such variations, and particularly the relatively large percentage of schools identified in several states, some have expressed concern that large percentages of all public schools are being identified as “failing” and subjected to a variety of corrective actions (described below), with consequent strain on financial and other CRS-26 resources necessary to provide technical assistance, public school choice and supplemental services options, and other corrective actions. In addition, some have expressed concern that schools might be more likely to fail to meet AYP simply because they have diverse enrollments and therefore more groups of pupils to be separately considered in determining whether the school meets AYP standards.44 In response to these concerns, ED officials have emphasized the importance of taking action to identify and move to improve underperforming schools, no matter how numerous. They have also emphasized the possibilities for flexibility and variation in taking corrective actions (see below) with respect to schools that fail to meet AYP, depending on the extent to which they fail to meet those standards. LEAs Failing to Meet AYP Standards. Although most attention, in both the statute and implementation activities, thus far has been focused on application of the AYP concept to schools, a limited amount of information is becoming available about LEAs that fail to meet AYP requirements, and the consequences for them. As shown in Table 1, according to the Consolidated State Performance Reports referred to above, approximately 30% of all LEAs failed to meet AYP standards on the basis of assessment results for the 2005-2006 school year.45 Among the states, there was even greater variation for LEAs than for schools. Two states — Alabama and Wisconsin — reported that 1% or less of their LEAs failed to make adequate yearly progress, while 100% of the LEAs in Florida and South Carolina, plus the single, statewide LEA in Hawaii, failed to meet AYP standards. Finally, in its “National Assessment of Title I: Final Report,” ED has reported that 1,578 LEAs, representing approximately 10% of all LEAs, were identified for improvement for the 2005-2006 school year. Bush Administration Reauthorization Proposals. The Bush Administration’s Reauthorization Blueprint contains three proposals regarding the ESEA Title I-A AYP provisions. First, all participating states would be allowed to use growth models to make AYP determinations, subject to conditions comparable to those applicable to the current pilot program. In addition, by the end of the 20112012 school year, graduation rates used as the additional academic indicator in AYP determinations for high schools would have to be disaggregated according to the same demographic groups as achievement levels. Further, states would be required to use a standard measure in calculating graduation rates, known as the averaged freshman graduation rate (AFGR). Finally, the Administration proposes that science test results be included in AYP determinations beginning in 2008-2009, although with a delayed goal for proficiency (2019-2020), in contrast to the 2013-2014 goal for reading and math. Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding AYP. It is likely that a number of reauthorization issues will be debated with respect to AYP. These issues may be divided into two general categories, according to whether the current requirements are viewed as being “too stringent” or “too lenient.” 44 See Thomas J. Kane and Douglas O. Staiger, Racial Subgroup Rules in School Accountability Systems, September 2002, available at [http://www.sppsr.ucla.edu/ faculty/kane/kanestaigerracialsubgroupsrevision.pdf], visited on October 13, 2006. 45 This calculation was based on data for all states except Maine. CRS-27 Are the Current AYP Requirements “Too Stringent”? ! Is the ultimate goal embodied in NCLB’s AYP provisions — all pupils at a proficient or higher level of achievement within 12 years of enactment — both desirable and achievable without a substantial weakening by states of pupil achievement standards? The required incorporation of this ultimate goal is one of the most significant differences between the AYP provisions of NCLB and those under the previous IASA. Without an ultimate goal of having all pupils reach the proficient or advanced level of achievement by a specific date, states might simply establish relative goals that provide little or no real movement toward, or incentives for, significant improvement, especially among disadvantaged pupil groups. Proponents of such a demanding ultimate goal argue that schools and LEAs frequently meet the goals established for them, even rather challenging goals, if the goals are very clearly identified, defined, and established, and are attainable. A demanding goal might maximize efforts toward improvement by state public school systems, even if the goal is not met. Nevertheless, a goal of having all pupils at a proficient or higher level of achievement, within any specified period of time, may be criticized as being “unrealistic,” if one assumes that “proficiency” has been established at a challenging level, as at least some states appear to have done. It is likely that many states, schools, and LEAs will not meet NCLB’s ultimate AYP goal, unless state standards of proficient performance are significantly lowered or states are allowed by ED to aggressively pursue the use of statistical techniques such as setting high minimum group sizes and confidence intervals to substantially reduce the range of pupil groups actually considered in AYP determinations and effectively lower required achievement level thresholds. ! Does the requirement for disaggregation of pupil groups in AYP determinations make it too difficult for schools or LEAs with diverse pupil populations to meet AYP standards? All other relevant factors (especially minimum group size) being equal, the more diverse its pupil population, the more thresholds a school or LEA must meet in order to make AYP. While this was an intended result of legislation designed to focus on specific disadvantaged pupil groups, the impact of making it more difficult for schools and LEAs serving diverse populations to meet AYP standards may also be seen as an unintended consequence of NCLB. A number of studies have concluded that, when comparing public schools with similar aggregate pupil achievement levels or aggregate percentages of pupils from low-income families, schools with a wider variety of NCLB-relevant demographic groups are substantially less likely to meet AYP standards. According to the “National Assessment of Title I: Final Report,” published by ED in October 2007, among schools with relatively low poverty rates, the percentage of schools failing to make AYP ranged from 3% for those with only 1 subgroup to 25% for those with 3 subgroups, and 32% for those with 4 or 5 CRS-28 subgroups. However, without specific requirements for achievement gains by each of the major pupil groups, it is possible that insufficient attention would be paid to the performance of the disadvantaged pupil groups among whom improvements are most needed, and for whose benefit the Title I-A program was established. This is because many schools and LEAs could demonstrate improvements in achievement by their pupils overall while the achievement of their disadvantaged pupils does not improve significantly. ! Is the 95% assessment participation requirement too high? According to the recent ED report, “National Assessment of Title I: Final Report,” 3% of the schools that failed to meet AYP requirements for the 2004-2005 school year did so solely on the basis of participation rates, while many others failed to meet the participation rate requirement in addition to other AYP thresholds. While few argue against having any participation rate requirement, it may be questioned whether it needs to be as high as 95%. The average percentage of enrolled pupils in attendance at public K-12 schools in recent years (93.5%) is below this level, and such attendance rates are generally assumed to be substantially lower than this national average in schools with high proportions of disadvantaged pupils. Even though schools are explicitly allowed to administer assessments on make-up days following the primary date of test administration, and it is probable that more schools and LEAs will meet this requirement as they become more fully aware of its significance, it is likely to continue to be very difficult for some schools and LEAs to meet a 95% test participation requirement. ! Are “too many” schools and LEAs failing to meet AYP standards? As is discussed above, relatively large percentages of public schools and LEAs overall have failed to meet state AYP standards. Future increases in performance thresholds, as the ultimate goal of having all pupils at the proficient or higher level of achievement is approached, as well as the implementation of tests in additional grades in many states, may result in higher percentages of schools failing to make AYP. ED officials have emphasized the importance of taking action to identify and improve underperforming schools, no matter how numerous. They have also emphasized the possibilities for flexibility in taking corrective actions with respect to schools that fail to meet AYP, depending on the extent to which they fail to meet those standards. Further, some analysts argue that a set of AYP standards that a relatively high percentage of public schools fails to meet may accurately reflect pervasive weaknesses in public school systems, especially with respect to disadvantaged pupil groups. Others have consistently expressed concern about the accuracy, efficacy, and complexity of an accountability system under which such a relatively high percentage of schools is identified as failing to make adequate progress, with consequent strain on CRS-29 financial and other resources necessary to provide technical assistance, public school choice and supplemental services options, as well as other corrective actions. ! Should states be allowed greater flexibility in the models of AYP they implement to meet the NCLB requirements? In particular, should all states be allowed to adopt models that are largely or primarily based on pupil achievement growth, as discussed above with respect to the current pilot program? The conditions for participation in the pilot are somewhat restrictive, and four of the five “growth models” approved thus far are relatively limited, essentially adding a projected achievement level option to the standard AYP model of NCLB. ! Should AYP determinations retain their current “pass-fail” structure, or should states be allowed to use a more varied, graduated rating scale? Under current law and policy, schools, LEAs, and states simply do or do not meet AYP standards, and there is generally no distinction between those that fail to meet only one or two required performance or participation thresholds to a marginal degree versus those that fail to meet numerous thresholds to a substantial extent. Several analysts have suggested that a more nuanced grading scale be allowed (e.g., grades ranging from A to F), as is used in several state accountability systems. A major complication is determining at what point on such a scale the current “automatic” consequences (e.g., school choice or supplemental services, discussed below) are invoked. Are the Current AYP Requirements “Too Lenient”? ! Are such statistical techniques as confidence intervals and dataaveraging being appropriately applied in state AYP policies? The averaging of test score results for various pupil groups over two- or three-year periods is explicitly authorized under NCLB; the use of confidence intervals is not explicitly authorized by the statute, but has been approved by ED and very widely adopted by states. The use of confidence intervals to determine whether group test scores fall below required thresholds to a statistically significant degree addresses the fact that test scores for any group of pupils will vary from one test administration to another, and these variations may be especially large for a relatively small group of pupils. At the same time, the use of confidence intervals reduces the likelihood that schools or LEAs will be identified as failing to make AYP, and effectively lowers required thresholds of achievement. Ultimately, the use of this technique may mean that the average achievement levels of pupil groups in many schools will be below 100% proficiency by 2013-2014, yet the schools would still meet AYP standards because the groups’ scores are within relevant confidence intervals. CRS-30 ! Are some states setting minimum group size levels so high that a large proportion of some disadvantaged pupil groups is not being considered in school-level AYP determinations? Another important technical factor in state AYP standards is the establishment of the minimum size (“n”) for pupil groups to be considered in AYP calculations. NCLB recognizes that in the disaggregation of pupil data for schools and LEAs, there might be pupil groups that are so small that average test scores would not be statistically reliable, or the dissemination of average scores for the group might risk violation of pupils’ privacy rights. The selection of this minimum number has been left to state discretion, and the range of selected values for “n” is rather large. The higher the minimum group size, the less likely that many pupil groups will be separately considered in AYP determinations, especially at the school level. This gives schools and LEAs fewer thresholds to meet, and reduces the likelihood that they will be found to have failed to meet AYP standards. As a result, relatively high levels for “n” weaken NCLB’s specific focus on a variety of pupil groups, many of them disadvantaged. At the same time, pupils of all groups are considered as part of the “all student” group in every public school and LEA, and the ultimate goal of 100% proficiency by 2013-2014 implies that every pupil group, no matter how small, must be evaluated with respect to this goal by that time, if not immediately. ! Are NCLB’s AYP provisions being undermined by wide variations in state standards for pupil achievement, and should there be a more explicit role for “national standards,” through NAEP assessments or otherwise, in NCLB outcome accountability process? The percentage of public schools and LEAs failing to meet AYP standards varies widely among the states. While the basic structure of AYP definitions is now substantially more consistent across states than before enactment of NCLB, significant variations remain with respect to technical factors such as minimum group size and confidence intervals, and substantial differences in the degree of challenge embodied in state standards and assessments remain. Curriculum content and pupil performance standards are determined at the discretion of the states. An implicit purpose of the state NAEP participation requirement is to “confirm” trends in pupil achievement, as measured by state-selected assessments by comparing them with trends in NAEP results, on the basis of nationally consistent content and performance standards. Nevertheless, the connection between NAEP results and state test score trends is currently ambiguous and indirect, and NCLB prohibits the use of NAEP assessments by agents of the federal government to influence state or LEA instructional programs or assessments. Some have called for a more explicit role for “national standards,” either as embodied in NAEP or in some other fashion, in NCLB outcome accountability process, to more directly address national concerns about educational quality, and establish greater CRS-31 consistency in outcome accountability policies across the nation.46 Others believe that in our federal government system, where state and local governments pay a large majority of educational costs and have more explicit constitutional authority to set educational standards, such basic matters of education policy should continue to be left to state discretion. Other Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding AYP. Two other potential AYP-related reauthorization issues do not fall into either of the general categories above. 46 ! Have ED’s reviews of state AYP policies been appropriately rigorous, transparent, flexible, and consistent? As ED staff and designated peer reviewers have examined initial and revised state AYP policies, several observers have expressed concerns about: a lack of transparency in the review procedures and criteria; inconsistencies (especially over time) in the types of changes that ED officials have approved; whether the net effect of the changes is to make the accountability requirements more reasonable or to undesirably weaken them; whether the changes may make an already complicated accountability system even more complex; and whether decisions on proposed changes are being made in a timely manner by ED. ! Should results from required science assessments be included in AYP determinations when these assessments are implemented? As noted above, states participating in Title I-A are required to administer assessments in science at three grade levels by the end of the 2007-2008 school year. Current statutory provisions are ambiguous and somewhat contradictory regarding whether results of these science assessments must be incorporated into AYP determinations when the assessments are implemented, although current regulations and policy guidance from ED indicate that incorporation of science assessment results will not be required. At the least, it would be helpful for reauthorization legislation to clarify congressional intent on this question. For example, see “To Dream the Impossible Dream: Four Approaches to National Standards and Tests for America’s Schools,” by Chester E. Finn, Jr., et al., Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 2006, available at [http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/National%20 Standards%20Final%20PDF.pdf]. CRS-32 Program Improvement, Corrective Actions, and Restructuring47 NCLB requires states to identify LEAs, and LEAs to identify schools, that fail to meet state AYP standards for two consecutive years for program improvement, and to take a variety of actions with respect to schools or LEAs that fail to meet AYP standards for additional years after being identified for improvement.48 While states are encouraged to establish unitary accountability systems affecting all public schools, the Title I-A statute requires them only to take corrective actions regarding schools and LEAs that receive Title I-A funds, not all schools and LEAs. Thus, the actions described below need be taken with respect to a large majority of LEAs and approximately 58% of all public schools. School Improvement and Corrective Actions. Title I-A schools that fail to meet AYP standards for two consecutive years must be identified for program improvement. Once so identified, a school remains in “needs improvement” status until it meets AYP standards for two consecutive years.49 At this and every subsequent stage of the program improvement and corrective action process, the LEA or SEA are to arrange for technical assistance, “based on scientifically based research” (Section 1116(b)(4)(c)), to be provided to the school. Funding for this purpose is provided in part through a state reservation of 4% of total Title I-A grants,50 as well as a separate authorization for additional funds,51 for school improvement activities. Parents of pupils in these schools are to be notified of the school’s identification as needing improvement. Any school identified as needing improvement must spend at least 10% of its Title I-A grant for staff professional development activities. In addition, pupils attending schools that have failed to meet AYP standards for two consecutive years or more must be provided with options to attend other public 47 For more information on this topic, see Section 4: Outcome Accountability Under ESEA Title I-A, by David P. Smole, of CRS Report RL33371, K-12 Education: Implementation Status of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110), coordinated by Gail McCallion. 48 An analogous, separate series of provisions applies to schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). 49 If a school that has been identified for improvement meets AYP standards for one year (only), then implementation of later stages of corrective action or restructuring (described below) may be delayed for one year. 50 No LEA is to receive less than its previous year Title I-A grant as a result of implementing this reservation. Due to this requirement, it is likely that some states have been unable to reserve the full 4% in some recent years, due to flat or declining Title I-A grants statewide. In its budget request for FY2007, the Administration requested that the limitation on LEA reductions when reserving improvement funds be waived. 51 No funds were appropriated under this authority for FY2002-FY2006. For FY2007, $125 million was appropriated for School Improvement Grants. CRS-33 schools that have not been designated as needing improvement or as being unsafe.52 Public school choice must be offered to such pupils by the next school year (unless prohibited by state law). LEAs are generally required only to offer public school choice options within the same LEA; however, if all public schools in the LEA to which a child might transfer have been identified as needing improvement, then LEAs “shall, to the extent practicable,” establish cooperative agreements with other LEAs to offer expanded public school choice options.53 Transportation must be provided to pupils utilizing public school choice options. Children who transfer to other public schools under this authority are to be allowed to remain in the school to which they transfer until they complete the highest grade in that school; however, the LEA is no longer required to provide transportation services if the originating school meets AYP standards for two consecutive years. If a Title I-A school fails to meet AYP standards for a third year, pupils from low-income families in the school must be offered the opportunity to receive instruction from a supplemental services provider of their choice,54 in addition to continuing to be offered public school choice options.55 States are to identify and provide lists of approved providers of such supplemental instructional services — which might include public or private schools, LEAs, commercial firms, or other organizations — and monitor the quality of the services they provide. The amount spent per child for supplemental services is to be the lesser of the actual cost of the services or the LEA’s Title I-A grant per child (from a poor family) included in the national allocation formula (approximately $1,400 on average for FY2007, although this amount will vary substantially in different states and LEAs). LEAs are to use funds equal to as much as 20%56 of their Title I-A grants for transportation of pupils exercising public school choice options plus supplemental services costs (combined), although the grant to any particular school identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring may not be reduced by more than 52 On this and other school choice provisions and issues, see also CRS Report RL33506, School Choice Under the ESEA: Programs and Requirements, by David P. Smole. 53 If an LEA is unable to offer public school choice options to eligible pupils, it may offer supplemental services options, as described below. 54 For a more thorough discussion and analysis of this provision and related issues, see CRS Report RL31329, Supplemental Educational Services for Children From Low-Income Families, by David P. Smole. 55 A limited number of states and LEAs have been allowed by ED to reverse the order for introducing public school choice and supplemental services, that is, to offer supplemental services after two years of failing to meet AYP standards, and school choice after three years. 56 More specifically, LEAs are to use an amount equal to 5% of their Title I-A grant (unless less is needed) for public school choice transportation costs, 5% (unless less is needed) for supplemental services, and up to an additional 10% for either, to the extent needed. These funds may be taken from the LEA’s Title I-A grant, or from other federal, state, or local sources. Under program regulations, costs of administering school choice and supplemental services programs are not to be counted in the application of these amounts. CRS-34 15% in order to provide these funds. LEAs are also authorized to use any funds that might be available under the Innovative Programs block grant (ESEA Title V-A) to pay additional supplemental services costs; states are authorized to use funds they reserve for program improvement or administration under Title I-A, or funds available to them under Title V-A,57 to pay additional supplemental services costs. If insufficient funds are available to pay the costs of supplemental services for all eligible pupils whose families wish to exercise this option, LEAs may limit services to the lowest-achieving eligible pupils. The requirement to provide supplemental services may be waived if none of the approved providers in the state offers such services in or near an LEA, and the LEA itself is unable to provide such services. One or more of a specified series of additional “corrective actions” must be taken with respect to Title I-A schools that fail to meet AYP for a fourth year. These “corrective actions” include replacing relevant school staff; implementing a new curriculum; decreasing management authority at the school level; appointing an outside expert to advise the school; extending the school day or year; or changing the internal organizational structure of the school. Which of these specific actions is to be taken is left to state or LEA discretion. Title I-A schools that fail to meet AYP standards for a fifth year must begin to plan for “restructuring,” and those that fail to meet AYP requirements for a sixth year must implement their restructuring plan. Such restructuring must consist of one or more of the following “alternative governance” actions: reopening as a charter school; replacing all or most school staff; state takeover of school operations (if permitted under state law); or other “major restructuring” of school governance. In September 2005, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) published a report on actions taken in the 13 states where one or more schools reached the final stage of school improvement (year five) in 2004-2005.58 In general, the authors of the ECS study concluded that (1) SEAs vary widely in their involvement in the restructuring process; (2) in most cases, the restructuring options applied to affected schools have been relatively mild to “moderate” (e.g., changing curriculum, implementing a school reform strategy, or altering the school’s management structure) rather than “strong” (e.g., reconstituting or closing the school, or converting it to a charter school); and (3) political difficulties have arisen in cases where stronger forms of restructuring have been applied. In several states, some restructuring options could not be implemented because they are not authorized under state law (e.g., charter schools). According to the report, “National Assessment of Title I: Final Report,” published by ED in 2007, approximately 1% of pupils eligible for public school choice, and 19% of those eligible for supplemental services, in the 2004-2005 school year actually participated in these activities. It is unclear whether such low participation rates in most states, if continuing into the present, result from delayed implementation of these provisions by states and LEAs, low levels of parental interest, inadequate dissemination of information about the options to parents, limited availability of alternative public schools or tutorial services, or other factors. 57 These funds may be rather limited; the FY2007 appropriation for all of ESEA Title V-A was $99 million, and no funds were appropriated for FY2008. 58 See [http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/64/28/6428.pdf], visited on October 13, 2006. CRS-35 LEA Improvement and Corrective Actions. Procedures analogous to those for schools are to apply to LEAs that receive Title I-A grants and fail to meet AYP requirements. While states are encouraged to implement unitary accountability systems applicable to all pupils and schools, states may choose to base decisions regarding LEA status and corrective actions only on the Title I-A schools in each LEA (and, in the case of targeted assistance schools, only on the individual pupils served by Title I-A). Further, as noted earlier, identification as needing improvement and corrective actions need be taken only with respect to LEAs that receive Title I-A grants. LEAs that fail to meet state AYP standards for two consecutive years are to be identified as needing improvement. Technical assistance, “based on scientifically based research” (Section 1116(c)(9)(B)), is to be provided to the LEA by the SEA; and parents of pupils served by the LEA are to be notified that it has been identified as needing improvement. SEAs are to take corrective action with respect to LEAs that fail to meet state AYP standards for a fourth year (i.e., two years of failing to meet AYP standards after having been identified for improvement). Such corrective action is to include at least one of the following (at SEA discretion): reducing administrative funds or deferring program funds; implementing a new curriculum; replacing relevant LEA staff; removing specific schools from the jurisdiction of the LEA; appointing a receiver or trustee to administer the LEA; abolishing or restructuring the LEA; or authorizing pupils to transfer to higher-performing schools in another LEA (and providing transportation) in conjunction with at least one of these actions. Finally, ED is required to establish a peer review process to evaluate whether states overall have met their statewide AYP goals, beginning after the third year of implementation of NCLB. States that fail to meet their goals are to be listed in an annual report to Congress, and technical assistance is to be provided to states that fail to meet their goals for two consecutive years or more. Bush Administration Reauthorization Proposals. The Bush Administration’s Reauthorization Blueprint contains numerous proposals regarding the ESEA Title I-A program improvement, corrective action, and restructuring provisions. These include the following: ! More flexibility would be authorized for states and LEAs to target school improvement and corrective actions (but not restructuring) on specific pupil groups failing to meet proficiency thresholds, as long as the “all pupil” group in a school or LEA meets proficiency targets. ! Schools identified for improvement would be required to offer supplemental educational services (SES) to pupils from low-income families immediately, not just after a third year of failing to meet AYP standards. Funding levels for SES would be increased for LEP pupils, pupils with disabilities, and pupils living in rural areas. In addition, funding for SES would be increased for pupils in schools identified for restructuring (Promise Scholarships — see below). CRS-36 ! LEAs would be required to spend all of their 20% reservation for choice and SES or risk forfeiting the remainder. ! The proposal attempts to strengthen school restructuring by making it more substantial in most cases, and including an option of turning governance authority for schools over to an elected official (such as a mayor) where authorized. ! Promise Scholarships would be authorized for pupils in schools undergoing restructuring for attendance at another public school, a private school, or for intensive SES. Title I-A funds plus an additional $2,500 would follow the child to a new school (for an estimated total of $4,000 if attending another public or private school, or $3,000 in the case of intensive SES). Pupils choosing a private school option would take state assessments. ! Opportunity Scholarship grants would be authorized for LEAs with large numbers of schools in improvement status (similar to the federally funded Washington, D.C., private school scholarship program). Scholarships would be provided to pupils from lowincome families attending schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. ! Schools identified for restructuring would be authorized to avoid limitations on teacher transfers in collective bargaining agreements. Differentiated Accountability Pilot. In addition to the reauthorization proposals above, on March 18, 2008, the Administration announced a pilot program under which the Secretary of Education would grant waivers to up to 10 states proposing to implement alternative NCLB accountability policies incorporating differentiated consequences.59 Under these policies, states could distinguish among schools identified for improvement, focusing resources upon, and applying the most significant consequences to, schools with the lowest performance levels. On July 1, 2008, the Secretary of Education announced that an initial group of six states had been approved to participate in a Differentiated Accountability Pilot program. The accountability plans for the six states — Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio — have three characteristics in common. These are: (1) identification of a highest priority group of schools identified for improvement, focusing the most substantial consequences and improvement resources on these schools; (2) some adjustment of the order and/or severity of consequences for schools placed into different improvement categories; and (3) in many cases, narrowing of certain consequences or actions to focus more specifically on pupil groups with the lowest levels of performance. The six state plans are described below.60 59 60 See [http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/03/03182008.html]. The state plans may be found at [http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/differentiated accountability/index.html]. CRS-37 Florida. The Florida plan is intended to reduce the apparent conflict between AYP under NCLB and the state accountability program (School Grades). Under the Florida plan, the highest priority will be placed on schools Schools identified for improvement for four years or more (planning for restructuring or restructuring) that meet less than 80% of applicable AYP criteria and receive grades of D or F in the current year (or two or more F’s over the last four years) under the Florida accountability system (“Most Critically Low-Performing Schools”). To be placed in this category, the schools must also have very low and/or declining percentages of pupils proficient in reading and/or math. Schools meeting these criteria constituted 24 out of 937 schools statewide identified for improvement (436 schools identified for four years or more) based on assessment results for the 2006-2007 school year. These schools will receive the most substantial interventions, which may involve reopening the school as a charter school or management through a contract with an outside education service agency. Teacher professional development, formative assessments, and regular performance monitoring will be emphasized. All other schools identified for improvement in Florida will be placed in one of four other categories, based on the number of years in improvement, school grades under the Florida accountability system, and the percentage of relevant AYP criteria met. For some schools identified for improvement (those with relatively higher school grades and percentage of AYP criteria met), the order of choice and supplemental educational services (SES) is reversed (i.e., SES beginning in the first year of identification for improvement, choice in the second). The state and LEA roles in directing improvement strategies, as well as requirements for teacher and principal qualifications and professional development programs, vary among the 5 categories of schools in improvement. Only schools in the highest priority category (“intervene”) face restructuring or closing. Georgia. In Georgia, schools identified for corrective action (years 3 and 4 of school improvement) will be placed in one of 3 tiers, based on the aggregate extent to which relevant pupil groups fail to meet annual measurable objectives (AMOs). The consequences would be similar for schools in the first two tiers, those where pupils are closest to meeting their AMOs. These schools and their LEAs will retain substantial flexibility in selecting the consequences. For schools in the 3rd tier, where pupil performance is furthest below the AMOs, consequences will be selected by the Georgia Department of Education [SEA]. Schools identified for improvement for five years or more (“restructuring” under NCLB) will be in “State-Directed” status. Contracts will be established between the SEA and each such school, with a “state director” selected by the SEA working fulltime on-site at each school. The “state director” will be directly involved in decisions regarding replacement of school staff and will oversee implementation of actions taken to improve school performance. At each stage of school improvement, there will be subtle changes in the menu of corrective actions from which schools, LEAs, and the SEA may choose, with increased emphasis on conversion to a charter school at all stages, and on direct SEA involvement in the final stage of improvement. Under the Georgia plan, schools in years one and two of identification for improvement will be able to reverse the order of introduction of public school choice and SES. SES will be targeted first on pupils who are both from low-income CRS-38 families and are achieving below a proficient level. The second priority group for SES will be pupils attending schools identified for improvement who are achieving below a proficient level, whether or not they are from low-income families. Illinois. In Illinois, schools identified for improvement will be placed in one of two general categories depending on whether they fail to make AYP with respect to the all pupils group (Comprehensive) or one or more pupil subgroups (Focused). Required plans and actions will be either comprehensive or more targeted consistent with these categories. Corrective action will be eliminated as a separate stage of consequences, but specific actions now associated with that stage will be introduced beginning in the second year of identification for improvement (1 year earlier than currently required). LEAs will be given flexibility to reverse the order of introduction of SES and school choice. LEAs with limited choice options available may be allowed to prioritize notifications of eligibility for this option (in unspecified ways). Plans for restructuring are still somewhat tentative, but they will involve a Priority Schools Initiative for comprehensive, intensive improvement of the lowestperforming Title I-A schools (in terms of the percentage of students scoring at a proficient or higher level); additional schools identified for improvement for five years or more may volunteer for the Initiative. The Initiative will initially focus on high schools, and will not exceed the lowest-performing 5% of schools per grade span statewide (determined separately for very large and other LEAs). Only the lowest performing Comprehensive improvement schools will be required to participate. Participation in the Initiative must involve collaboration of school and LEA leadership with teacher unions, and will include increased flexibility in the use of funds and waiver of requirements (for example, all such schools would be allowed to operate Title I-A schoolwide programs, whether or not they are otherwise eligible), with active involvement by the SEA. Schools that are identified for improvement for six or more years but do not participate in the Priority Schools Initiative must implement a restructuring plan and meet specified performance benchmarks within two years. Analogous procedures (with the exception of the Priority Schools Initiative) will apply to LEAs. Indiana. Under the Indiana plan, schools identified for improvement will be placed into one of two categories, Targeted or Comprehensive, based on an index that combines the number of subject/subgroup combinations that fail to make their AMOs and the degree to which each such AMO is not met. In this process, the all pupils group is treated the same as any pupil subgroup. Schools with higher index numbers (more groups failing to make AMOs and/or greater degree of failure to make AMOs) will be Comprehensive improvement schools, while those with relatively lower index numbers will be Targeted improvement schools. A subset of the 20% of Comprehensive schools with the highest index numbers will be Comprehensive/ Intensive improvement schools. Schools would move within these categories if they have index numbers associated with a different category for two consecutive years. For all schools in improvement, Indiana will switch the order of introduction of SES and school choice. In addition, eligibility for both SES and choice will be narrowed to include only pupils scoring below a proficient level. In Comprehensive CRS-39 improvement schools, a number of policy changes are intended to increase participation in SES (such as open enrollment throughout the school year and provision of services onsite). For Targeted improvement schools, the range of corrective actions is somewhat more limited than under current law, and implementation of them is delayed for one year, while the restructuring stage of consequences is not required. For Comprehensive improvement schools, a number of changes are made to both corrective actions and restructuring that are intended to make these consequences more substantial and to remove ambiguities. There is an emphasis under both categories on the hiring of instructional coaches and leadership mentors. In addition to other consequences, Comprehensive/Intensive improvement schools will be served by state support teams and Institute for School Leadership teams. Maryland. In Maryland, the 3 stages of school improvement under NCLB will be combined into two stages: Developing (school improvement and corrective action under NCLB) and Priority (restructuring under NCLB). Each of the stages of improvement will be further divided into two categories, Comprehensive and Focused, based upon the number and nature of pupil groups failing to meet AYP criteria. Schools where the all pupils group or 3 or more subgroups fail to make AYP will be placed in the comprehensive categories, while other schools identified for improvement (including schools that serve only a special needs population) will be in the focused category. If a Focused school is identified for improvement for more than seven years, it will be shifted to the Comprehensive category. Assignment of schools to categories will be based on reading and math achievement only, not other AYP criteria. Consequences for schools identified for improvement will in most cases be largely the same as under current policy. Improvement plans for priority schools must be approved by the SEA, and only a limited number of alternative governance options will be available to Comprehensive Priority schools. In Focused schools, interventions may be targeted on specific subgroups and subject areas in which the school has failed to make AYP. At present, while parallel criteria are being developed for LEAs, the differentiated accountability system in Maryland will apply only to schools. Ohio. Under the Ohio plan, in the categorization of schools for varying levels of consequences, more attention will be paid to the extent to which AYP criteria are met, and to linkages between identification of schools and their LEAs for improvement, with less attention to the number of years for which schools may have been identified than under standard NCLB policies. Schools and LEAs identified for improvement will be assigned to one of 3 levels — low, medium, and high support — based primarily (but not solely) on the extent to which they fail to meet relevant AYP criteria (i.e., failure to meet less than 20%, 20-29%, or 30% or more of relevant AYP criteria). Assignment of schools and LEAs to one of the 3 support levels will also be influenced by the status of the LEA in the case of schools, and vice-versa; for example, a school identified for improvement would be placed in a high support category if it is located in a high support LEA . Also, schools failing to make AYP for six consecutive years or more would be placed in the medium or high support category, regardless of the percentage of relevant AYP criteria they fail to meet. CRS-40 The required interventions for schools and LEAs in each category vary relatively little from those required under current policy. Among other actions, schools and LEAs in the medium support category must establish LEA and school leadership teams, and those in the high support category must be reviewed and monitored by a State Diagnostic Team. Possible Reauthorization Issues. For a discussion and analysis of reauthorization issues related to program improvement, corrective actions, and restructuring, see Section 4 of CRS Report RL33371, K-12 Education: Implementation Status of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110), coordinated by Gail McCallion, under the subheading “Implementation Issues.” Regulations Published in October 2008 Regarding Title I-A Assessments and Accountability Several new final regulations affecting the Title I-A assessment, AYP, and accountability policies were published in the “Federal Register” on October 29, 2008 (pages 64435-64513). The most substantial proposed regulations deal with high school graduation rates, as used in AYP determinations, and school choice and supplemental educational services for pupils in schools identified for improvement. Many of the new regulations clarify previous regulations or codify as regulations policies that had been established through less formal mechanisms (such as policy guidance or peer reviewer guidance). The October 2008 regulations are briefly described below. Graduation Rates. Numerous changes have been made to previous policies regarding graduation rates used as the “additional indicator” in AYP determinations for high schools. Previously, states were allowed a substantial degree of flexibility in their method for calculating graduation rates and were not required to disaggregate the rates by pupil group (except for reporting purposes). Also, although states were required to determine a level of, or rate of improvement in, graduation rates that would be adequate for AYP purposes, they were not required to set an ultimate goal toward which these rates should be progressing. Under the October 2008 regulations, states must adopt a uniform method for calculating graduation rates. This method must be used for school, LEA, and state report cards showing results of assessments administered during the 2010-2011 school year, and for purposes of determining AYP on the basis of assessments administered during the 2011-2012 school year (states unable to meet these deadlines may request an extension). This method has been endorsed by the National Governors Association. The graduation rate is defined as the number of students who graduate from high school in four years61 divided by the number of students in the cohort for the students’ class, adjusted for student transfers among schools. States may also propose using a supplementary extended-year graduation rate, in addition to the four-year rate, in order to accommodate selected groups of students (such as certain students with disabilities) who may need more than four years to graduate. These graduation rates must be disaggregated by subgroup. 61 This includes students who graduate following a summer program after their fourth year. CRS-41 States must set an ultimate goal for graduation rates that they expect all high schools to meet. No federal standard is established, but the state goal, as well as annual targets toward meeting that goal, must be approved by ED as part of the state’s accountability policy. Choice and Supplemental Educational Services. The October 2008 regulations make numerous changes to previous policy regarding school choice and supplemental educational services (SES) for pupils in schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. All of these changes are intended to increase the relatively low rate of pupil participation in these options. LEAs are required to notify parents of their child’s eligibility for school choice at least 14 days before the beginning of the school year. Notices of eligibility for SES must be “clearly distinguishable” from other information sent to parents and must highlight the benefits of SES. Also, a large number of specific outreach and reporting activities must be undertaken by SEAs and LEAs with respect to choice and SES, and up to 0.2% of LEA Title I-A grants could be used for parental outreach activities. Required monitoring by SEAs of the services of SES providers and their effectiveness must be substantially expanded, and a number of factors that must be considered by SEAs in determining whether to initially approve and renew SES provider contracts are specified. In addition, the NCLB requires LEAs to spend an amount equal to up to 20% of their Title I-A grants for school choice and SES, if necessary, depending on the number of pupils eligible for and participating in these options. If less than the full 20% is required, remaining funds may be reallocated to other Title I-A purposes. Under the October 2008 regulations, before an LEA reallocates any of the 20% of its annual Title I-A grant to other Title I-A purposes, it must undertake a series of outreach activities intended to increase participation in these options. These activities include working with community-based organizations (to the extent practicable) to provide information on SES options to parents and students, allowing eligible students to register for SES during at least two enrollment periods each school year, disseminating information on approved SES providers that identifies those able to serve students with disabilities and LEP students, and providing equitable access to school facilities for SES providers. LEAs must also inform their SEA of any funds from the 20% reservation that are reallocated to other Title I-A purposes, and SEAs are to monitor whether such LEAs have met all relevant requirements. School Improvement, Corrective Action, and Restructuring. ED policy allowing states and LEAs to limit identification of schools or LEAs for improvement to those failing to make AYP for two consecutive years or more in the same subject (reading or mathematics) is incorporated into the October 2008 Title IA regulations. At the same time, it is emphasized that states and LEAs may not limit identification to schools failing to make AYP for two consecutive years or more in the same subject and pupil group. Regulations regarding school restructuring, the final stage of the school improvement process, are an effort to address evidence that existing restructuring actions have been inadequate in many cases, by somewhat sharpening the language in regulations to increase the possibility that restructuring actions will be substantial. CRS-42 Under the regulations, actions taken under restructuring must be “significantly more rigorous and comprehensive” than those taken under corrective action (unless the school adopts one of the restructuring options as a corrective action). Although SEA and LEA flexibility might be reduced to a degree, the modified language is broad and ultimately subject to interpretation by LEAs and SEAs. In particular, it is noted that although restructuring may include replacement of the school’s principal, it may not be limited to this action (i.e., it must be more comprehensive). Group Size-Related Provisions in State AYP Policies. States must provide a more extensive rationale than previously required for their selection of minimum group sizes, use of confidence intervals, and related aspects of their AYP policies. Although no specific limits are placed on these parameters, states must explain in their Accountability Workbooks how their policies provide statistically reliable information while minimizing the exclusion of designated pupil groups in AYP determinations, especially at the school level. States must also report on the number of pupils in designated groups that are excluded from separate consideration in AYP determinations due to minimum group size policies. In addition, the regulations codify provisions for the National Technical Advisory Council that was established in August 2008 to advise the Secretary on a variety of technical aspects of state standards, assessments, AYP, and accountability policies. Each state is required to submit its Accountability Workbook, modified in accordance with the proposed regulations, to ED for a new round of technical assistance and peer review. Workbooks must be submitted in time to implement any needed changes before making AYP determinations on the basis of assessment results for the 2009-2010 school year. Assessments and Accountability Policies in General. The proposed regulations clarify that assessments required under Title I-A may include multiple formats as well as multiple academic assessments within each subject area (reading, mathematics, and science). This does not include the concept of “multiple measures,” as this term has been used by many to refer to proposals to expand NCLB through inclusion of a variety of indicators other than standards-based assessments in reading, mathematics, and science. Also, states are required to include results from the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments on their state and LEA performance report cards. Further, ED policies regarding provisions for states to request waivers allowing them to use growth models of AYP are codified in the October 2008 regulations (previously they were published only in policy guidance and peer reviewer guidance documents.) Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers. The highly qualified teacher requirements are modified to make them consistent with regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) with respect to special education teachers, particularly those who do not teach in core subject areas. In particular, a teacher is considered to be highly qualified under Title I-A if the teacher meets the requirements for a being a highly qualified special education teacher under the IDEA. CRS-43 Staff Qualifications NCLB established new requirements regarding teacher qualifications for all public schools in states participating in Title I-A. The ESEA also contains qualification requirements for teacher aides or paraprofessionals, although these provisions are limited to certain paraprofessionals paid with Title I-A funds. An additional provision of NCLB regarding instructional staff is the requirement that LEAs are to use at least 5% of their Title I-A grants for professional development activities. Separately, as noted earlier, individual schools identified as having failed to meet AYP standards for two consecutive years or more must use at least 10% of their Title I-A grants for professional development. Teacher Qualifications First, NCLB requires LEAs participating in ESEA Title I-A to ensure that, beginning with the 2002-2003 school year, teachers newly hired with Title I-A funds were to be “highly qualified.” Second, participating states must establish plans providing that all public school teachers statewide in core academic subjects62 meet NCLB’s definition of “highly qualified” by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. For information on, and an analysis of, the ESEA Title I-A teacher qualification requirements, see CRS Report RL33333, A Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom: Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, by Jeff Kuenzi; plus Section 6: Teacher Quality, by Jeff Kuenzi, of CRS Report RL33371, K-12 Education: Implementation Status of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107110), coordinated by Gail McCallion. Qualification Requirements for Paraprofessionals63 Paraprofessionals, also known as teacher aides, constitute approximately onehalf of the staff hired with Title I-A grants, and their salaries constitute an estimated 15% of Title I-A funds. Use of Title I-A funds for paraprofessionals appears to be especially prevalent in many high-poverty LEAs and schools. Paraprofessionals whose salaries are paid with Title I-A funds provide a variety of instructional and non-instructional services in both schoolwide and targeted assistance programs. Some have criticized the performance of instructional duties by paraprofessionals who may lack postsecondary educational credentials and may receive little supervision from classroom teachers. Others have questioned the appropriateness of using Title I-A funds to pay paraprofessionals who perform duties that are not directly related to instruction. The IASA in 1994 required paraprofessionals paid through Title I-A to be directly supervised by teachers, and in general to have a high school diploma or equivalent within two years of employment. 62 This term is defined in Sec. 9101(11) of the ESEA as including English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography. 63 Also see CRS Report RS22545, Paraprofessional Quality and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,by Jeffrey J. Kuenzi. CRS-44 NCLB expanded the requirements for paraprofessionals paid with Title I-A funds.64 These requirements applied initially to paraprofessionals newly hired with Title I-A funds after the date of enactment of NCLB, and they apply to all such staff paid with Title I-A funds (i.e., all paraprofessionals employed in schools operating schoolwide programs plus those directly paid with Title I-A funds in targeted assistance schools) as of the end of the 2005-2006 school year. The affected paraprofessionals must have either: (a) completed at least two years of higher education; or (b) earned an associate’s (or higher) degree; or (c) met a “rigorous standard of quality,” established by their LEA, and “can demonstrate, through a formal State or local assessment ... knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, reading, writing, and mathematics.”65 Under the authorizing statute, these requirements apply to all paraprofessionals paid with Title I-A funds except those engaged in translation or parental involvement activities; regulations (Federal Register, December 2, 2002) also exempt any other paraprofessionals whose duties do not include providing instructional support services. All paraprofessionals in Title I-A programs, regardless of duties, must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent; this requirement was effective upon enactment of NCLB. Decisions regarding whether to allow paraprofessionals to meet these requirements via an assessment (or only by completing two years of higher education or earning an associate’s degree) have been left largely to state and LEA discretion, and a wide variety of approaches are being adopted.66 The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has compiled a database (covering 48 states) on state policies to meet NCLB paraprofessional qualification requirements.67 According to ECS, 12 states have established paraprofessional qualification requirements that exceed those under NCLB, and five states are applying their requirements to all paraprofessionals, not just those providing instructional services in Title I-A programs. Ten states have established certification requirements for paraprofessionals (which is not specifically required by NCLB). Thirty-six states are using the ParaPro test published by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to assess paraprofessional qualifications, while 17 are using the WorkKeys test published by the American College Testing Program (ACT), and 21 are allowing LEAs to use tests of their choice (several states are following multiple approaches).68 64 In addition to regulations published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2002, draft non-regulatory guidance on the Title I-A paraprofessional requirements was published by ED on November 15, 2002; see [http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/paraguidance.pdf]. 65 Or demonstrate knowledge of, and the ability to assist in, reading readiness, writing readiness, or mathematics readiness, where appropriate (e.g., for paraprofessionals serving preschool or early elementary pupils). 66 These decisions include which assessment(s) would qualify, what constitutes a “passing” score, and whether these decisions should be made by LEAs or states. 67 The database may be accessed at [http://www.ecs.org/html/educationissues/teaching Quality/parapro/NCLB_parapro_DB_intro.asp]. 68 See [http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/63/52/6352.pdf]. CRS-45 According to the authorizing statute and ED policy guidance, there are several potential sources of funds to help pay the costs of any education that may be necessary for affected paraprofessionals to meet the Title I-A requirements. These sources include funds received under Title I-A, especially those reserved for professional development (as described above); ESEA Title II-A, Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund; ESEA Title III-A, the English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act; ESEA Title V-A Innovative Programs grants; and for applicable schools, Indian Education grants under ESEA Title VII-A. Paraprofessionals from relatively low-income families would also be eligible for federal grants and subsidized loans, provided under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, to help pay costs of taking courses at institutions of higher education. State data on paraprofessional qualifications during the 2003-2004 school year were published by Education Week.69 These data, covering 42 states and the District of Columbia, were reported to ED and obtained by Education Week through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Among these 43 jurisdictions, the percentage of paraprofessionals in Title I programs that met NCLB qualification requirements in the 2003-2004 school year ranged from 27% in Massachusetts to 99% in Iowa. In addition, the types of responsibilities to which all paraprofessionals paid with Title I-A funds may be assigned are outlined in NCLB. These include tutoring of eligible pupils, assistance with classroom management, parental involvement activities, translation, assistance in computer laboratories or library/media centers, and instruction under the direct supervision of a teacher. Bush Administration Reauthorization Proposal. The Bush Administration’s Reauthorization Blueprint contains a proposal on teachers that is potentially relevant to ESEA Title I-A, although it does not deal with the teacher and paraprofessional qualification requirements. A Teacher Incentive Fund would authorize grants to develop compensation systems that reward teachers and principals who are successful in raising pupil achievement levels, as well as those who serve in high-need schools. Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Title I-A Paraprofessional Qualification Requirements. Possible reauthorization issues regarding the Title I-A paraprofessional qualification requirements include the following: ! 69 Have the paraprofessional qualification requirements significantly affected the extent to which Title I-A funds are used to hire these staff? In particular, have a significant number of paraprofessionals lost their jobs, or been assigned to non-Title I-A positions, after the end of the 2005-2006 school year because they were unable to meet the paraprofessional qualification requirements? See [http://www.edweek.org/media/27admin.pdf], visited on October 13, 2006. CRS-46 ! Should the paraprofessional qualification requirements be expanded further? For example, should these requirements, like those for teachers, be applied to all paraprofessionals with instructional responsibilities, not just those paid with Title I-A funds? Should states be given incentives to adopt paraprofessional certification requirements, as have been adopted in some states? ! Should the roles of states versus LEAs in setting policies and implementing these requirements be clarified? Particularly in comparison to the teacher quality requirements of NCLB, there has been relatively little guidance from ED, or clarity in the statute, on state versus LEA roles in the area of paraprofessional qualification requirements. Has the result been a constructive form of flexibility, or dysfunctional ambiguity? Services to Private School Pupils, Staff, and Parents Since the original enactment of the ESEA in 1965, states and LEAs participating in Title I-A have been required to provide for the equitable participation of eligible pupils who attend private schools. The share of an LEA’s Title I-A grant that is used to serve private school pupils is to be equal to the proportion of pupils from lowincome families living in Title I-A public school attendance areas who attend private schools. Both before and after enactment of NCLB, the percentage of pupils served under Title I-A who attend private schools has been significantly below the percentage of all K-12 pupils who are enrolled in private schools. According to the latest available data (for the 2002-2003 school year), only 1.1% of all pupils served under Title I-A attend private schools, while approximately 11.6% of all K-12 pupils attended private schools in fall 2005. Potential explanations for the low rate of private school pupil participation range from program structure,70 to possibly lower rates of economic and educational disadvantage among private school pupils, to possible reluctance of public school officials to use Title I-A funds to serve private school pupils or reluctance of some private school officials to get involved in federal education programs. NCLB made a number of relatively modest changes to the Title I-A provisions for services to pupils attending private schools. First, it provided that such services should be provided not only to eligible pupils but also to their families and school staff as well (consistent with the general Title I-A provisions for parental involvement and professional development activities). Second, it required that services be provided to private school pupils “in a timely manner.” Third, requirements for consultation between public and private school officials were expanded to include such topics as the data to be used to determine the share of pupils from low-income families who attend private schools (see next paragraph), 70 Most public school Title I-A programs are schoolwide programs (where all enrolled pupils are considered to be served), whereas private school pupils are served only in targeted assistance programs (where only the individual pupils directly served are counted). CRS-47 and who would provide the services, including consideration of the possibility of providing services via a third-party contractor. Title I-A includes specific provisions regarding authorized methods for LEAs to determine the share of pupils from low-income families who live in a Title I-A (public) school attendance area, and who attend private schools. This is the basis for determining the share of Title I-A grants that is to be devoted to serving eligible private school pupils. LEAs may (1) use the same measure of low income and source of data as used to count such children attending public schools; (2) conduct a survey, which may be based on a representative sample of pupils, using the same measure of low income as used to count children attending public schools; (3) apply the percentage of children from low-income families determined for public school pupils to private school pupils residing in the same school attendance area; or (4) use a different measure of low income than used for counting children attending public schools, adjusting these data by an appropriate proportion so that the measures may be equated.71 These provisions are similar to those of policy guidance disseminated by ED under the previous authorizing statute (the IASA of 1994). Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Title I-A Private School Participation Requirements. Possible reauthorization issues regarding the Title I-A requirements for equitable participation by private school pupils and staff include the following: 71 ! How should private school pupils be served under Title I-A? The targeted assistance mode of serving private school pupils is used in a steadily declining share of public school programs. It may be questioned whether other modes of serving eligible private school pupils, such as the supplementary educational services model, might be more consistent with trends in Title I-A public school programs. Might alternative modes of serving private school pupils increase participation by reducing administrative burdens? ! Is the share of participating pupils who attend private schools “too low”? As noted above, the proportion of pupils served by Title I-A who attend private schools has always been low. This may simply reflect relatively low rates of eligibility (namely, low rates of economic or educational disadvantage), or it might be a result of barriers to fully equitable participation. Should ED pay greater attention to enforcement of the private school participation requirements in its oversight and monitoring activities? For example, assume that data are available on the number of public school pupils in an LEA who receive free school lunches and Medicaid, but are only available for private school pupils who receive Medicaid; that the LEA uses the number of pupils who receive free school lunches to allocate Title I-A funds among eligible schools; and that the ratio among public school pupils in the LEA of free school lunch recipients to Medicaid recipients is 2 to 1. The LEA could then multiply the number of relevant private school pupils receiving Medicaid by two to obtain an equivalent estimate of the number of such pupils who would be eligible to receive free school lunches. CRS-48 Fiscal Accountability, Particularly Comparability While the program’s focus has shifted to outcome accountability in recent decades, Title I-A has always included a series of fiscal accountability requirements. These are intended to provide that Title I-A grants represent a net increase in the level of financial resources available to serve educationally disadvantaged pupils, and that they do not ultimately replace funds that states or LEAs would provide in the absence of federal aid. There are three Title I-A fiscal accountability requirements; the first two of these are common to federal assistance programs, while the third is unique to Title I-A. To meet the first requirement, maintenance of effort, recipient LEAs must provide, from state and local sources, a level of funding (either aggregate or per pupil) in the preceding year that is at least 90% as high as in the second preceding year. A second fiscal accountability requirement provides that Title I-A funds must be used so as to supplement, and not supplant, state and local funds that would otherwise be available for the education of disadvantaged pupils in Title I-A participating schools. The third, distinctive, fiscal requirement under Title I-A is comparability — services provided with state and local funds in schools participating in Title I-A must be comparable to those in non-Title I-A schools of the same LEA.72 An LEA may meet the requirement by providing a written assurance that it has implemented an LEA-wide staff salary schedule, and policies to assure equivalence among schools in teachers and other staff plus curriculum materials and supplies. In calculating staff salaries, differentials associated with seniority (years of employment) need not be considered, unpredictable changes in enrollment or personnel assignments may be excluded, and expenditures for programs for LEP pupils or pupils with disabilities, or state programs similar to Title I-A, need not be taken into account. Concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the current Title I-A comparability requirement, and whether many LEAs are, in effect, using Title I-A funds to subsidize their general operations in addition to increasing the level of services and resources available to disadvantaged pupils.73 A specific argument begins with the near-universal practice of allowing the most experienced and qualified teachers to choose the schools in which they will teach, and a tendency for such teachers to prefer teaching in schools with comparatively low percentages of pupils from low-income families. This is combined with the exclusion of senioritybased staff salary differentials in the current comparability requirement, as well as in the budgeting systems for state and local funds in many LEAs, and the fact that LEAs generally comply with this requirement without compiling or reporting detailed school-level financial data (i.e., they typically provide assurances of policies as described above). The result is that the major portion of state and local funds 72 If all of an LEA’s schools participate in Title I-A, then services funded from state and local revenues must be “substantially comparable” in each school of the LEA. 73 See, for example, “Strengthening Title I to Help High-Poverty Schools,” by Marguerite Roza, et al., published on August 18, 2005, by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington, available at [http://www.crpe.org/workingpapers/pdf/TitleI_ reportWeb.pdf]. CRS-49 represented by teacher salaries are often not distributed equitably among high versus low poverty schools. Even the Title I-A funds may often be distributed in a way that favors participating schools with relatively lower percentages of pupils in lowincome families, if the LEA follows the frequent practice of using LEA average, rather than actual, teacher salaries to account for their use of Title I-A funds.74 An underlying difficulty is the lack of comprehensive school-level budgeting and accounting systems in much of the nation. Until such systems are common, it will remain difficult to assure that the Title I-A comparability requirement can be meaningfully implemented. Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Fiscal Accountability. Possible reauthorization issues regarding fiscal accountability, particularly the Title I-A comparability requirement, include the following: ! Should LEAs no longer be allowed to meet the comparability requirement by simply providing assurances of equitable policies, but rather be required to compile and report school-level budgeting data and meet a quantitative equity standard? This would be a comprehensive and direct approach to assuring comparability; it might be combined with the provision of financial support for development of school-based budget systems in the many states and LEAs that currently lack them. At the same time, it would substantially expand administrative burdens for many LEAs and states. A more modest approach would be to require the collection and reporting of school-level financial data only with respect to teacher salaries, the largest and potentially most varied expenditures by LEAs. ! Should the current exclusion of seniority-based salary differentials be deleted? This would eliminate a major source of variation in school level funding within LEAs. At the same time, it might be seen as conflicting with common LEA personnel practices, and with teacher union contracts in many LEAs. Should the practice of using LEA averages in accounting for the salaries of teachers paid with Title I-A funds be prohibited? While this would conflict with current practices in many LEAs, it would be less burdensome administratively than the other options discussed above, and would directly address a potentially significant, Title I-Aspecific concern. ! 74 If, for example, teachers with lower-than-average seniority and salaries tend to be assigned to Title I-A schools, especially those with the highest concentrations of pupils from lowincome families, but the LEA accounts for those teachers using LEA-wide salary averages, then a “surplus” (difference between the actual and LEA average teacher salaries) would arise that might implicitly subsidize the LEA’s general budget, rather than be targeted on schools eligible to be served under Title I-A. CRS-50 Title I-A Allocation Formulas For the allocation of funds to states and LEAs, ESEA Title I-A has four separate formulas: the Basic, Concentration, Targeted, and Education Finance Incentive Grant (EFIG) formulas. However, once these funds reach LEAs, they are no longer treated separately; they are combined and used without distinction for the same program purposes. A primary rationale for using four different formulas to allocate a share of the funds for a single program is that the formulas have distinct allocation patterns, providing varying shares of allocated funds to different types of localities. In addition, some of the formulas contain elements that are deemed to have important incentive effects or to be significant symbolically — such as the equity and effort factors in the EFIG formula — in addition to their impact on allocation patterns. There is also a historical explanation: the Targeted and EFIG formulas, in particular, were initially proposed as replacements for the Basic plus Concentration Grant formulas; that is, each of the Targeted and EFIG formulas was originally intended to be the Title I-A formula. But in subsequent deliberations, these formulas were ultimately established to supplement, but not replace, the Basic and Concentration Grant formulas, and to complement each other. The discussion below describes the characteristics of the Title I-A allocation formulas as these have been amended by NCLB. These characteristics are summarized in Table 2. CRS-51 Table 2. Brief Summary of ESEA Title I-A Allocation Formula Characteristics Formula Characteristic Basic Grants Concentration Grants Targeted Grants Education Finance Population factor Children aged 5-17: (a) in poor families; (b) in institutions for neglected or delinquent children or in foster homes; and (c) in families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) payments above the poverty income level for a family of four Same as Basic Grants Same as Basic Grants Same as Basic Grants Population factor eligibility threshold for LEAs 10 or more formula children and a school-age child poverty rate of 2% or more 6,500 or more formula children or a 15% or higher school-age child poverty rate 10 or more formula children and a school-age child poverty rate of 5% or more 10 or more formula children and a school-age child poverty rate of 5% or more Weighting of population factor None None At all stages of the allocation process, poor and other children counted in the formula are assigned weights on the basis of each LEA’s school-age child poverty rate and number of poor school-age children For allocation of funds within states only, poor and other children counted in the formula are assigned weights on the basis of each LEA’s school-age child poverty rate and number of poor school-age children Expenditure factor State average expenditures per pupil for public K-12 education, subject to a minimum of 80% and maximum is 120% of the national average, further multiplied by .40 Same as Basic Grants Same as Basic Grants Same as Basic Grants, except that the minimum is 85% and the maximum is 115% of the national average CRS-52 Formula Characteristic Basic Grants Concentration Grants Targeted Grants Education Finance Minimum state grant Up to 0.25% of total state grants, subject to a series of caps Same as Basic Grants Up to 0.35% of total state grants, subject to a series of caps Same as Targeted Grants LEA hold harmless 85%-95% of the previous year grant, depending on the LEA’s school-age child poverty rate, applicable only to LEAs meeting the formula’s eligibility thresholds Same as Basic Grants except that LEAs are eligible for the hold harmless for up to four years after they no longer meet the eligibility threshold Same as Basic Grants Same as Basic Grants Stages in the grant calculation process Grants are calculated at the LEA level, subject to state minimum provisions Same as Basic Grants Same as Basic Grants Grants are first calculated for states overall, then state total grants are allocated to LEAs in a separate process Additional formula factors None None None State effort and equity factors are applied in the calculation of state total grants CRS-53 General Characteristics of the Title I-A Allocation Formulas There are several common elements of the four Title I-A allocation formulas, described below. (1) Each of them has a population factor, which is the same in each of the four formulas. This factor comprises children aged 5-17: (a) in poor families, according to the latest available data from the Census Bureau that are satisfactory to the Secretary of Education, and based on the Census Bureau’s standard poverty income thresholds (these constitute approximately 96% of all formula children for FY2007);75 (b) in certain institutions for neglected or delinquent children and youth or in certain foster homes (these constitute approximately 3.9% of all formula children for FY2007); and (c) in families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) payments above the poverty income level for a family of four (these constitute less than 0.1% of all formula children for FY2007).76 (2) Under each of these formulas, this population factor is multiplied by an expenditure factor, which is based on state average expenditures per pupil (AEPP) for public K-12 education, subject to minimum and maximum levels.77 Special expenditure factor provisions have been applied in calculating grants to Puerto Rico, but these are scheduled to fully expire as early as FY2008.78 Due to the expenditure 75 These data are from the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Population Estimates (SAIPE), which provides estimates of poor and total children aged 5-17 for LEAs, counties, and states. These estimates are updated every year. As of this writing, the latest SAIPE data are for income year 2003; these estimates were initially published in November 2005, were revised in October 2006, and were used to calculate FY2006 Title I-A allocations. 76 Given its extremely small size, this factor is essentially of symbolic significance. It is the remainder of a long-term policy of including in the Title I-A formulas the estimated number of school-age children from poor families plus the number of children in families with income above the poverty level due to receipt of “welfare” payments (initially, payments under Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or AFDC, and more recently TANF). Currently, there are very few families with income from TANF above the poverty level for a family of four. Based on FY2007 program data, TANF children constitute more than 1% of all formula children in 128 LEAs, most of them relatively small, almost all of them in the states of New York and Ohio. 77 For all except the EFIG formula, the minimum is 80% and the maximum is 120% of the national average. For the EFIG formula, the minimum and maximum are 85% and 115%. These amounts are further multiplied by a “federal share” of 40% to determine maximum authorized grants, subject to state minimum, LEA hold harmless, and other provisions. 78 Before enactment of NCLB, for Puerto Rico only, the minimum expenditure factor for each of the four allocation formulas was further multiplied by the ratio of the Puerto Rico average expenditure per pupil divided by the lowest average for any state. For FY2001, the (continued...) CRS-54 factor, LEAs in high-spending states receive up to 50% more per child counted in the Title I-A formulas than LEAs in low-spending states. The rationale for this factor is that it reflects differences in the cost of providing public education, and provides an incentive to increase state and local spending. However, it is a spending index that reflects ability and willingness to spend on public education as well as cost differences; it is not precisely targeted (affecting all LEAs in a state equally); and the incentive it provides to increase state and local spending for public education is relatively small. (3) Each of the formulas has a hold-harmless provision — a minimum annual grant level for LEAs that is calculated as a percentage of the previous year’s grant under each formula.79 (4) The four Title I-A formulas include a state minimum grant level as well: in general, no state is to receive less than approximately 0.25% of allocated funds up to the FY2001 appropriation level, and approximately 0.35% of funds above that level.80 78 (...continued) last pre-NCLB year, this ratio was approximately 75.0%; as a result, the FY2001 grant to Puerto Rico was approximately one-third less than the amount it would have received if it were treated fully in the same manner as the 50 states and the District of Columbia. NCLB placed a floor on this ratio, which rises in steps from 77.5% for FY2002 to 100.0% (that is, the same minimum expenditure factor as for a state) for FY2007 and beyond. The scheduled increases in the Puerto Rico expenditure factor are not to be implemented if doing so would result in a decrease in the grant to any state. Through FY2006, the scheduled increases took place each year (although the scheduled increase for FY2006 took effect only after revised poverty estimates were incorporated in the grant calculations in October 2006). However, the final step in this process was not implemented in FY2007; it is not yet known whether it will be implemented in FY2008 or later. 79 The hold-harmless rate under each formula is now 85%-95% of the previous year grant, depending on the LEA’s school-age child poverty rate (children counted for Title I-A grants as a percentage of total school-age population). If the LEA poverty rate is 30% or above, the hold-harmless rate is 95%; if the poverty rate is 15%-30%, the hold-harmless rate is 90%; and if the poverty rate is less than 15%, the hold-harmless rate is 85%. With a partial exception for certain LEAs under the Concentration Grant formula, hold-harmless rates are applicable only to LEAs meeting the eligibility thresholds for each formula. For FY2006, under P.L. 109-148, a special hold harmless rate of 100% was applied to LEAs affected by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. 80 More specifically, the minimum is up to 0.25% for Basic and Concentration Grants at funding levels up to the FY2001 appropriation for those formulas, and up to 0.35% for Basic and Concentration Grants above the FY2001 level plus all funds allocated under the Targeted and EFIG formulas. In addition, these state minimums are capped in all cases; under the Basic, Targeted, and EFIG formulas, a state may not, as a result of the state minimum provision, receive more than the average of (1) 0.25% of the total FY2001 amount for state grants plus 0.35% of the amount above this, and (2) 150% of the national average grant per formula child, multiplied by the number of formula children in the state. Under the Concentration Grant formula, a state may not, as a result of the state minimum provision, receive more than the average of (1) 0.25% of the total FY2001 amount for state grants plus 0.35% of the amount above this, and (2) the greater of (i) 150% of the national (continued...) CRS-55 (5) Finally, each formula has a minimum eligibility threshold for LEAs, which is a minimum number of poor and other formula children, or a minimum school-age child poverty rate,81 in order to be eligible for grants (even hold-harmless amounts) in most cases. The LEA minimum eligibility threshold varies by formula: it is 10 formula children and a school-age child poverty rate of 2% for Basic Grants or a 5% school-age child poverty rate for the Targeted and EFIG formulas. For Concentration Grants, the LEA eligibility threshold is 6,500 formula children or a 15% school-age child poverty rate. With the partial exception of Concentration Grants,82 if an LEA does not meet the eligibility threshold, the hold-harmless provision does not apply. As a result, a number of LEAs have experienced complete elimination of their grants under some of these formulas from one year to the next, as their school-age child poverty rate declines from marginally above to marginally below 5.0%. In addition to these common elements, two of the Title I-A formulas have the following unique features. (1) For the Targeted Grant formula, as well as the intra-state allocation of funds under the EFIG formula, the poor and other children counted in the formula are assigned weights on the basis of each LEA’s school-age child poverty rate and number of poor school-age children. As a result, an LEA would receive higher grants per child counted in the formula, the higher its poverty rate or number. Under the Targeted Grant formula, the weighting factors are applied in the same manner nationwide; poor and other formula children in LEAs with the highest poverty rates have a weight of up to four, and those in LEAs with the highest numbers of such children have a weight of up to three, compared to a weight of one for formula children in LEAs with the lowest poverty rate and number of such children. In contrast, under the EFIG formula, the degree of targeting (in terms of the ratio of the highest to the lowest weight) varies depending on the value of each state’s equity factor (described below). Under both formulas, the higher of its two weighted child counts (on the basis of numbers and percentages) is used in calculating grants for each LEA. For Puerto Rico (only), a cap of 1.82 is placed on the net aggregate weight applied to the population factor under the Targeted Grant formula.83 80 (...continued) average grant per formula child, multiplied by the number of formula children in the state, or (ii) $340,000. 81 Throughout this report, this term refers to the number of poor and other children counted in the Title I-A allocation formulas, expressed as a percentage of the total school-age population for the LEA. 82 For Concentration Grants only, an LEA continues to be eligible for a (steadily declining) hold harmless amount for up to four years after it no longer meets the formula’s eligibility criteria. 83 This cap was intended to provide that the share of Targeted Grants allocated to Puerto Rico would be approximately equal to its share of grants under the Basic and Concentration Grant formulas for FY2001. This cap reduces grants below the level that would obtain if there were no cap at all (i.e., if Puerto Rico were treated in the same manner as the 50 states (continued...) CRS-56 (2) The EFIG formula has two unique factors — an equity factor and an effort factor — in addition to the population and expenditure factors. The equity factor is based upon a measure of the average disparity in expenditures per pupil among the LEAs of a state called the coefficient of variation (CV), which is expressed as a percentage of the state average expenditure per pupil.84 In calculating grants, the equity factor is subtracted from 1.30. As a result, the lower a state’s expenditure disparities among its LEAs, the lower is its CV and equity factor, and the higher is its multiplier. Conversely, the greater a state’s expenditure disparities among its LEAs, the higher is its CV and equity factor, and the lower is its multiplier. The effort factor is based on a comparison of state expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary education with state personal income per capita. This ratio for each state is further compared to the national average ratio, resulting in an index number that is greater than 1.0 for states where the ratio of expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary education to personal income per capita is greater than average for the nation as a whole, and below 1.0 for states where the ratio is less than average for the nation as a whole. Narrow bounds of 0.95 and 1.05 are placed on the resulting multiplier, so that its effect on state grants is limited. Under the Basic, Concentration, and Targeted Grant formulas, maximum grants are calculated by multiplying the population factor by the expenditure factor for all LEAs meeting the minimum eligibility thresholds. Under all four formulas, maximum amounts are reduced proportionally to the aggregate level of available funds, subject to LEA hold-harmless and state minimum grant provisions. The EFIG formula differs from the others both in terms of its use of unique formula factors and in being a two-stage formula. First, state total grants are calculated by multiplying the state total population factor by the expenditure factor, by 1.3 minus the equity factor, and by the effort factor. Then, these state total grants are allocated to LEAs on the basis of a variation of the Targeted Grant formula, with the degree of targeting (the ratio of the weight applied to formula children in the highest poverty ranges compared to the weight for such children in the lowest poverty ranges) varying in three stages. The stage, or degree of targeting, used for substate allocation varies depending on each state’s equity factor: the higher the equity factor 83 (...continued) and the District of Columbia), since Puerto Rico’s high number and percentage of poor school-age children would translate into a significantly higher weighting factor if not capped. 84 In the CV calculations for this formula, an extra weight (1.4 vs. 1.0) is applied to estimated counts of children from poor families. Limited purpose LEAs, such as those providing only vocational education, are excluded from the calculations, as are small LEAs with enrollment below 200 pupils. There are special provisions for states meeting the expenditure disparity standard established in regulations for the Impact Aid program (ESEA Title VIII), as well as the single-LEA areas of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. CRS-57 (and therefore the greater the disparities in expenditures per pupil among a state’s LEAs), the greater will be the degree of targeting on high-poverty LEAs in the intrastate allocation of EFIG funds. Targeting on High-Poverty LEAs Under the Four Title I-A Formulas For the last several years, a primary issue regarding the Title I-A allocation formulas has been the extent to which funds are targeted on high-poverty LEAs. Over 90% of the nation’s LEAs receive grants under ESEA Title I-A, largely because the eligibility thresholds for three of the four allocation formulas, as described above, are relatively low. In general, all LEAs receive Title I-A grants except those that have extraordinarily low school-age poverty rates or have extremely few pupils.85 A few LEAs (including certain charter schools that are treated as separate LEAs under state law) are eligible for relatively small Title I-A grants, but do not choose to participate in the program, at least in part because the responsibilities accompanying participation are perceived to exceed the value of the prospective grants. Table 3, below, presents the distribution of Title I-A grants among LEAs grouped by poverty rate quintile.86 Each quintile contains LEAs with one-fifth of the nation’s total estimated number of school-age children in poor families, on the basis of the Census Bureau population estimates used in calculating FY2008 grants (those for income year 2005). Table 3 lists the percentage share (of the national total) of Title I-A grants that are allocated to LEAs in each poverty quintile. These data are provided separately for each of the four Title I-A allocation formulas, as well as for total grants for FY2008.87 As illustrated in Table 3 and Figure 1, below, the share of Title I-A funds allocated to LEAs in various poverty rate ranges varies significantly among the four allocation formulas. For Basic Grants, the share is similar for each quintile of LEAs, varying only within the narrow range of 19.2%-21.1%. For Concentration Grants, the share of funds allocated to LEAs in each poverty rate range is again similar, with the exception of the lowest-poverty quintile, which receives a much lower share (4.0% of total grants vs. 23.1%-25.2% for the other four quintiles). This reflects the eligibility threshold for Concentration Grants (formula child rate of at least 15% or 6,500 formula children). Overall, the primary pattern for both Basic and Concentration Grants is relatively constant shares of funds for all quintiles of LEAs 85 According to program data for FY2008, approximately 80% of the LEAs receiving no Title I-A grants have an estimated total number of school-age children of fewer than 100. 86 For the LEA-level analyses in this report, “poverty rates” are based on estimated schoolage children in poor families divided by total school-age population. 87 It should be noted that this analysis is based on LEA grants as calculated by the U.S. Department of Education. It does not take into consideration the adjustments that SEAs may make to these grants (reservations for state administration and program improvement, reallocation of funds among small LEAs in selected states, and adjustments for charter schools and LEA boundary changes). In the aggregate, the impact of this limitation should be quite small. CRS-58 meeting minimum eligibility thresholds. In other words, grants per poor and other child counted in the Title I-A allocation formulas are approximately the same for all LEAs meeting the initial eligibility criteria for Basic and Concentration Grants, whether those LEAs have high, average, or somewhat below average school-age child poverty rates. The pattern of distribution of grants under the Targeted and EFIG formulas is somewhat different. Under each of these formulas, the share of total grants increases steadily from the lowest to the second-highest poverty rate quintile, then is approximately constant for the 4th and 5th quintiles. While this partly reflects the slightly higher eligibility threshold for these formulas in comparison to Basic Grants (5% vs. 2% formula child rate), it primarily results from the structure of these formulas. Under both the Targeted and EFIG (within-state) formulas, the grant per formula child continuously increases as either the LEA’s school-age child poverty rate, or its total number of children counted in the Title I-A formulas, increases. The share of funds going to LEAs in the 5th quintile (highest poverty rates) under each of these formulas is not substantially higher than the share going to LEAs with the second highest poverty rates (4th quintile) primarily because of the strong influence of high numbers of formula children on the allocation of funds,88 the influence of the expenditure factor,89 and the cap placed on Targeted Grant formula population weights for Puerto Rico.90 88 With the exception of Puerto Rico, LEAs with the largest numbers of school-age children in poor families tend to have high, but not among the highest, school-age child poverty rates. 89 LEAs with the highest school-age child poverty rates are frequently located in states with relatively low expenditure factors. 90 As mentioned in a previous footnote, a cap is placed on the aggregate formula child weighting factor for Puerto Rico, reducing the share of Targeted Grant funds allocated to this LEA with a very high poverty rate (the highest poverty quintile). CRS-59 Figure 1. Share of ESEA Title I-A Funds Allocated to LEAs by Poverty Rate Quintile, FY2008 Percentage Share of Formula Grants 30% Q u in tile 1 (lo w e s t) Q u in tile 2 Q u in tile 3 Q u in tile 4 Q u in tile 5 (h ig h e s t) 20% 10% 0% T o ta l T itle I-A G ra n ts B a s ic G ra n ts C o n c e n tra tio n G ra n ts F o rm u la T a rg e te d G ra n ts E d u c a tio n F in a n c e In c e n tiv e G ra n ts CRS-60 Table 3. Share of ESEA Title I-A Funds Allocated to LEAs by LEA Poverty Rate Quintile, FY2008 Title I-A Formula Poverty Rate Quintile 1 2 3 4 5 (Poverty Rates of (Poverty Rates of (Poverty Rates of (Poverty Rates of (Poverty Rates 0 - 13.59%) 13.59 - 18.64%) 18.64 - 25.73%) 25.73 - 31.37%) Above 31.37%) Percentage Share of Total Grants Total Title I-A Grants, FY2008 Basic Grants (48% of FY2008 appropriations) Concentration Grants (10% of FY2008 appropriations) Targeted Grants (21% of FY2008 appropriations) Education Finance Incentive Grants (21% of FY2008 appropriations) All LEAs 16.5 19.3 19.0 22.9 22.3 100.0 21.1 19.7 19.2 20.5 19.5 100.0 4.0 23.1 23.9 25.2 23.9 100.0 14.5 18.4 17.9 24.8 24.3 100.0 14.1 17.4 17.6 25.4 25.6 100.0 Source: Table prepared by CRS. Note: Table reads (for example): The quintile of LEAs with the highest school-age child poverty rates received 22.3% of total FY2008 ESEA Title I-A grants, 19.5% of all funds allocated as Basic Grants for FY2008, 23.9% of Concentration Grants, 24.3% of Targeted Grants, and 25.6% of Education Finance Incentive Grants. CRS-61 FY2007-FY2009 Funding for Title I-A FY2007. For FY2007, the Administration requested a funding level of $12,913,125,000 for Title I-A. Under this request, the same amount as for FY2006 would have been provided for all aspects of Title I-A, except that an additional $200 million would have been provided for school improvement grants, under the statute’s separate authorization for such grants (to supplement the 4% of state grants that is generally to be reserved for this purpose). In the final FY2007 appropriations legislation (H.J.Res. 20, P.L. 110-5), the appropriation for Title I-A LEA grants is $12,838,125,000, an increase of $125 million (1.0%) over FY2006. An additional $125 million is provided for school improvement grants. FY2008. The Administration budget for FY2008 requested $13,909,900,000 for Title I-A LEA grants, an increase of $1,071,775,000 (8.3%) over the FY2007 appropriation, plus $500 million for school improvement grants, a fourfold increase over FY2007. All of the increase in LEA grants would have been devoted to Targeted Grants (along with a $62.5 million reduction in EFIG grants). P.L. 110161, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008, provides a total of $13,898,875,000 for Title I-A grants to LEAs, plus a separate appropriation of $491,265,000 for school improvement grants. As in the recent past, the funding level for Concentration Grants is the same for FY2008 as for FY2007, and equal amounts are appropriated for the Targeted and EFIG formulas ($2,967,949,000 for each). All of an across-the-board reduction for Title I-A was applied to Basic Grants, reducing that formula to $6,597,946,000. Title I-A funding levels for FY2007-FY2009 may be found in Table 4, below, while Figure 2, below, illustrates trends in appropriations and authorizations for FY2001-FY2008. FY2009 Budget Request. For FY2009, the Administration has requested a total of $14,304,901,000 for Title I-A grants to LEAs, an increase of $406,026,000 (2.9%) over the FY2008 appropriation, plus $491,265,000 for school improvement grants, the same as the FY2008 level. All of the increase in LEA grants would be allocated as Targeted Grants. Final FY2009 appropriations legislation for Title I-A has not been adopted; a continuing resolution currently provides funding at the FY2008 level. Table 4. FY2007-FY2009 Appropriations for ESEA Title I, Part A Formula Basic Grantsa Concentration Grants Targeted Grants Education Finance Incentive Grants Total ESEA Title I-A Grants to LEAs Authorization level for Grants to LEAsb School Improvement Grants (separate authorizationb) Source: Table prepared by CRS. FY2007 $6,808,408,000 1,365,031,000 2,332,343,000 2,332,343,000 12,838,125,000 25,000,000,000 FY2008 $6,597,946,000 1,365,031,000 2,967,949,000 2,967,949,000 13,898,875,000 25,000,000,000 FY2009 $6,597,946,000 1,365,031,000 3,373,975,000 2,967,949,000 14,304,901,000 — 125,000,000 491,265,000 491,265,000 CRS-62 a. The amounts shown above for Basic Grants include approximately $3.5 million each year for census updates. b. School Improvement Grants are authorized at $500 million for FY2002 and “such sums as may be necessary” for FY2003-FY2008. Figure 2. ESEA Title I-A Appropriations and Authorizations, FY2001-FY2008 dollars in $1,000s, not adjusted for price level changes $30,000,000 $25,000,000 $20,000,000 $15,000,000 $10,000,000 $5,000,000 $0 2001 2002 2003 2004 Appropriations 2005 2006 2007 2008 Authorization Appropriations Authorization Levels. Prior to NCLB, ESEA legislation generally contained specific authorization amounts for ESEA Title I-A only for the first year of each authorization period, authorizing only “such sums as may be necessary” for the succeeding years. In contrast to this pattern, NCLB authorizes specific amounts for each year, beginning at $13.5 billion for FY2002 and increasing to $25 billion for FY2007 and FY2008.91 FY2008Allocation Patterns. FY2008 (school year 2008-2009) grants are the latest available actual allocations under Title I-A. Overall, the FY2008 funding level for Title I-A is 8.3% above the FY2007 level. This contrasts with the period of FY2005-FY2007, when aggregate funding for Title I-A LEA grants was essentially constant. 91 This specification of authorization amounts for each year has not fully resolved a longterm debate over what constitutes the “full funding” level for Title I-A. Whether or not specific amounts have been specified in the authorizing statute for any year, many program advocates have argued that the “full funding” concept for Title I-A has always been based on maximum payment calculations under the Basic Grant allocation formula (only). As was described above, the Part A Basic Grant formula establishes a maximum payment on the basis of poor and other “formula children” multiplied by a state expenditure factor. The total of these maximum payments is understood by a number of analysts to represent the “full funding” level for Part A. For FY2008, this amount would be approximately $33.2 billion. CRS-63 Primarily because of the comparatively large increase in Title I-A funding for FY2008, all states except one (Wisconsin, where grants declined by 1.3%) received higher total grants for FY2008 than for FY2007. At the LEA level, approximately 61% of all LEAs nationwide that received Title I-A grants for both FY2007 and FY2008 received larger grants for FY2008, while 39% received lower grants for FY2007. LEAs receiving lower Title I-A grants for FY2008 than in FY2007 have been experiencing reductions in their estimated number of school-age children in poor families; these include LEAs of all sizes and degrees of poverty concentration, in contrast to the FY2002-FY2006 period when a large majority of large or highpoverty LEAs experienced grant increases, even while a majority of LEAs were losing funds. Bush Administration Reauthorization Proposal. The Bush Administration’s Reauthorization Blueprint contains a proposal on intra-LEA allocation of funds under ESEA Title I-A. According to the Bush Administration’s Reauthorization Blueprint, Title I-A funding for high schools would be increased, although details on how this would occur are not yet available. Possible Reauthorization Issues Regarding Title I-A Allocation Formulas. Possible reauthorization issues regarding the Title I-A allocation formulas include the following. ! Should there be some consolidation of the four different allocation formulas? Although there are differences among the four Title I-A allocation formulas, and each of them has a somewhat distinctive distributional pattern, it may be questioned whether each formula serves a sufficiently distinct role and purpose as to justify its continued use. In particular, should there be three different formulas that attempt to target greater funds on high-poverty LEAs? Should Basic Grants, with their lack of targeting on high poverty areas, be continued? Are the distinctive features of the EFIG formula likely to provide sufficient incentive or reward effects to influence state policy on K-12 education spending? Should Targeted and EFIG grants be combined into a single formula; for example, by application of the effort and equity factors to the Targeted Grant formula? ! Now that formula population estimates are updated annually, should there be some effort, in addition to current hold harmless provisions, to mitigate the impact of annual population shifts on grants, especially for LEAs that are near eligibility thresholds? In recent years, as funds have been increasingly allocated through the Targeted and EFIG formulas, some LEAs have experienced dramatic shifts in funding from one year to the next as their school-age child poverty rate varies by small amounts around the eligibility threshold of 5.0%. Large swings in funding make it exceptionally difficult to use Title I-A funds efficiently. The four-year phaseout of holdharmless provisions, now applied only to Concentration Grants, might be extended to Targeted and EFIG grants. More broadly, the stability of grant levels, as well as the reliability of LEA population CRS-64 estimates, could be increased by averaging formula population data for the most recent 2-3 years, rather than simply using the latest data as is done currently. ! Should the expenditure factors continue to play a major role in the Title I-A formulas? The state expenditure factors, while little noticed, have a major impact on the distribution of Title I-A grants. As discussed above, they are the same statewide, with no consideration of local variations; they likely provide little incentive to increase state spending on K-12 education; and they reflect differences in ability to raise revenues at least as much as differences in costs. Perhaps the best argument for continuing them is that they partially, roughly, and indirectly compensate for the lack of a geographical cost adjustment for the poverty population factor income thresholds.92 ! Should the effort factor in the EFIG formula be modified? As noted above, the EFIG formula’s effort factor is constrained within the very narrow bounds of 0.95-1.05. As a result, it serves largely a symbolic purpose. The bounds applied to this formula might be expanded. Consideration might also be given to the calculation of this factor on the basis of aggregate K-12 education expenditures and personal income in each state, rather than individual figures.93 ! Should the equity factor in the EFIG formula be modified? The measure of school finance equity used in the EFIG formula is one of several commonly-used measures of variation among LEAs in a state.94 Although there is a degree of consistency in the ratings of states on different equity measures, several states will appear to be more equalized on the basis of some measures than others. The 110th Congress might consider not only alternative equity measures, but also technical changes such as the addition of special weights for LEP pupils or pupils with disabilities, in addition to the current added weight for children in poor families. Finally, consideration might be given to combining or otherwise simplifying the three different degrees of population weighting used for the intrastate allocation of EFIG formula funds. 92 The income thresholds used to determine whether a family is poor vary by family size, but not by state or locality. 93 Currently, this factor is based on the average expenditure per pupil in the state divided by personal income per capita in the state, relative to national averages. This formulation tends to favor states where the school age population is comparatively small. Alternatively, the effort factor could be based on total expenditures for public K-12 education divided by total personal income in the state relative to national averages. This would favor states with relatively high levels of aggregate K-12 education spending resulting from high levels of expenditures per pupil, relatively large school-age populations, or both. 94 See, for example, “The Measurement of Equity in School Finance: Conceptual, Methodological, and Empirical Dimensions,” by Robert Berne and Leanna Stiefel, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984. CRS-65 ! Should the population weighting factors of the Targeted and EFIG formulas be modified to provide more funds to small-to-medium size LEAs with very high school-age child poverty rates? Currently, in spite of a superficial appearance to the contrary (i.e., higher maximum weights on the poverty rates than numbers), the weighting schemes used in these formulas tend to favor the nation’s largest (in formula population) LEAs. The weighting scales might be adjusted to increase grants to smaller LEAs with very high school-age child poverty rates. ! Should the prohibition against reducing LEA grants (compared to the previous year) in order to apply the 4% reservation of funds for program improvement be eliminated? This would allow SEAs to reserve the full 4%, and avoid reserving more than 4% from some LEAs in order to reach the 4% level statewide. At the same time, it would reduce grants for many LEAs to a level below what they would otherwise receive. ! Should the last remaining special constraint on grants to Puerto Rico, the cap on aggregate population weights in the Targeted Grant formula, be removed? As with the phaseout (scheduled to be completed in FY2007) of the expenditure factor limitation for Puerto Rico, consideration might be given to eliminating the cap on Targeted Grant formula child weights. However, if aggregate Title I-A funding levels continue to be constrained, this would likely reduce grants remaining for the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. ! Should the TANF formula factor be eliminated? As noted earlier, the TANF population factor is now extremely small (less than 0.1% of all formula children). Its significance is essentially historic and symbolic. If it were eliminated, the impact on grant levels would be very limited overall. ! Should the authorization level for Title I-A continue to be specified after FY2008, and if so, at what levels? In NCLB, Title I-A appropriations authorization levels were specified for each of FY2002-FY2007. Under the automatic extension provisions of the General Education Provisions Act, the FY2007 authorization applies to FY2008 as well. The FY2007 amount was set at a level approximately equal to the level of maximum Basic Grants — a traditional concept of “full funding” for Title I-A — as of FY2001 (the year preceding enactment of NCLB). In practice, over the FY2002-FY2007 period, the appropriation for Title I-A has been below the authorized amount each year, with the gap between authorization and appropriation increasing each year. For FY2008, the appropriation is 57% of the authorized amount. Thus, the impact of specifying authorization amounts for each year may be questioned. At the same time, specified authorizations do provide a goal for those seeking increased funding, and express the judgement of those involved in the authorizing process of an CRS-66 appropriate level of funding. Finally, if authorization issues are to be specified for years beyond FY2008, there may be proposals to link implementation of certain Title I-A requirements to the provision of authorized (or some other specified) levels of appropriations, or even to appropriate the authorized amounts in reauthorization legislation.