ESEA: How will it affect you?
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)-also known as Public Law 107-110 and The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)-is the largest legislative vehicle for marshalling much-needed help to America's public schools. NEA worked aggressively for the resources needed to help make every public school a great school, fair and meaningful accountability measures that help (rather than punish) schools, and provisions that respect educators as professionals.
Following is NEA's summary of ESEA. A toll-free hotline has been established at 1-866-373-ESEA (3732) or go to the NEA's Web site.
ESEA Overview: NEA Victories Rejection of requirements for testing current teachers Elimination of rigid accountability formulas that would have judged most schools as in "need of improvement" Use of multiple measures to assess student achievement Standardized tests not sole measure of school progress Detailed test result information provided to teachers/parents for diagnostic rather than punitive use Targeted funds to help low-performing schools No vouchers! • Rejection of unaccountable block grants Strong civil rights protections • Continuation of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards New flexibility and resources for rural schools • Funding for hate crime prevention programs • No "opt-in" for bilingual services Increased professional development opportunities and limits on classroom duties for paraprofessionals.
ESEA Concerns No guaranteed full funding for IDEA special education Lack of multi-year resources to implement all new mandates (i.e. testing, teacher quality, continuing IDEA requirements)
ESEA Overview: Accountability and Student Testing Starting in 2005-06 school year, requires annual testing in at least math and reading in grades 3-8, and at least once in grades 10-12. States must use NAEP as a benchmark every other year, but no sanctions will be based on performance on NAEP. Prior to 2005-06, requirement of reading and math tests at least once in each of three grade spans (3-5, 6-9, 10-12) remains in effect. Each state sets performance goals -- initial goal linked to current lowest-performing group of students or schools in state. Progress must be made overall for the school and for economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic minority groups, students with disabilities, and Limited English Proficient students.
Timelines If school fails to meet Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) for 2 years -- in year 3, enters school improvement including public school choice. If school again fails to meet AYP -- enters second year of school improvement (year 4), must offer supplemental services to students who want them. If school still failing at the end of year 4 -- enters corrective action (year 5), including extending school year/day, hiring outside experts, changing curriculum, replacing staff, and /or reducing local decision making. If school continues to fail to meet AYP -- goes into the second year of corrective action (year 6), including developing a restructuring plan. If school still failing in year 7 -- one of the following actions must be taken: state takeover turn over to private management turn into a charter school reconstitution/restructuring.
ESEA Overview: Paraprofessional Quality All new paraprofessionals working in a Title I program must have two years of post-secondary education, or be a high school graduate who can demonstrate on a state or local assessment the skills to assist in teaching reading, writing and math. Existing Title I paraprofessionals must meet one of these requirements within four years. The law lists allowable paraprofessional duties -- and prohibits requiring paraprofessionals to provide instructional services unless under the direct supervision of a teacher.
ESEA Overview: Teacher Quality Beginning with 2002-03 school year, each LEA receiving Title I funds must ensure all teachers hired and teaching in a program supported with Title I funds are "highly qualified." Each state must develop a plan to ensure that all teachers -- not just Title I teachers -- teaching "core academic subjects" are highly qualified no later than the end of the 2005-06 school year. Highly qualified means teachers must be fully certified or licensed under state law and demonstrate competency. Competency can be shown with an academic major in the area of assignment, or passing a test in the subject area, or demonstrating a high level of competence through a uniform, objective, statewide standard. All teachers newly entering the profession must take a written test. Certification/licensing tests may satisfy this requirement. LEAs that receive Title I funds must use at least 5% for professional development to help teachers become "highly qualified" by the end of the 2005-06 school year. States and LEAs can also spend Title II teacher quality funds for this purpose.
ESEA Overview: Flexibility and Transferability Every LEA has authority to transfer up to 50% of funds among Teacher Quality, Education Technology, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, and Innovative programs. In addition, funds can be transferred into Title I. Every state has authority to transfer up to 50% of state-level funds among Teacher Quality, Education Technology, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, after school, and Innovative programs, or into Title I. Seven states will be able to consolidate into a block grant state level funds from Title I, Reading, Teacher Quality, Technology, Safe and Drug-Free, after school, and state and local Innovative Program funds. Combined funds may be used for any ESEA purpose. States must partner with 4-10 LEAs which will be given consolidation authority over Teacher Quality, Technology, Safe and Drug-Free, and Innovative programs. An additional 80 LEAs in other states will also be granted consolidation authority over the same four programs.