Title I, Part A, flow-through funds provide local educational agencies (LEAs or school districts) with extra resources to help improve instruction in high-poverty schools and to ensure that poor and minority children have the same opportunity as other children to meet challenging State academic standards.
Accountability System, Standards, and Assessments
State accountability systems must be based on required standards and assessments and other indicators and must take into account the achievement of all public elementary school and secondary school students. Under former federal legislation, states should have adopted challenging academic content standards and challenging “student academic achievement standards” in math and reading/language arts; with NCLB, science must be added by the 2005-2006 school year. Mississippi has content standards in the core subject areas, which make up the Mississippi Curriculum Frameworks.
Assessments must be “valid and reliable” for the state’s purposes, aligned with state standards, and designed so that schools receive “itemized score analyses” that allow educators and parents to use them for diagnostic purposes. Former test requirements for administration at least one time during each of three grade spans (3-5; 6-9; 10-12) are retained in NCLB. Added is the requirement that states must assess in at least math and reading/language arts (in grades 3 through 8) by 2005-2006; science assessments at the three grade spans must be added by 2007-2008. Additionally, states must participate in biennial National Association of Education Progress (NAEP) exams in reading and math beginning in 2000-2003, as long as the federal government pays for it. Also, NCLB establishes that all students must be included in assessments and data disaggregation, moving toward multiple measures of “adequate yearly progress” for schools and districts.
Adequate yearly Progress
States must define ‘‘adequate yearly progress” (A.Y.P.) in a way that applies to all student groups, results in continuous improvement, and is “based primarily” on the required state assessments. A.Y.P. measures must include “separate measurable annual objectives” for economically disadvantaged, disabled, and LED students, and for students from major racial and ethnic groups. A school could be identified for improvement if any one group does not make AYP. Using data from the 2001-2002 school year, each state must establish a “starting point” against which progress is measured. Each state must also establish a “timeline” that theoretically gets all students to the “proficient” performance level in math and reading/language arts within 12 years.
As well as the school improvement issues discussed on page 4, districts are also identified as needing improvement after failing to make AYP for two consecutive years and must develop plans parallel to those for schools. If a district fails to AYP after two years of technical assistance, the state must take corrective action. A district may be removed from “improvement” status after making AYP for two consecutive years.
Equitable Services for Private School Students
Local Educational Agencies (LEAs, or school districts) must ensure not only that private school students receive equitable services as compared to those offered to public school students, but also that teachers and families of participating private school students have professional development and parent involvement activity opportunities, on an equitable basis. The LEA must ensure that the timely and meaningful consultation with appropriate private school officials occurs, before the LEA makes any decision affecting the opportunity of private school students of participate. Additionally, the LEA must obtain written affirmation signed by an official of each private school that consultation has occurred. This consultation should include, but is not limited to, the following: by whom services will be provided, how results of assessments will be used to improve instruction, the source and method of collecting low-income data the LEA uses to allocate funds (which may be collected every two years), and how and when the LEA will make decisions about delivery of services.