New Jersey School
Boards Association, 413 West State Street, P.O. Box 909, Trenton, NJ
Telephone: (609) 278-5202 ● Fax: (609) 695-0413 ● Web site: www.njsba.org/PI
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT:||Frank Belluscio (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
|Mike Yaple (email@example.com)|
TRENTON, June 16, 2004—Since the beginning of the year, the federal and the state departments of education have agreed to several changes in the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act advocated by the New Jersey School Boards Association. The major changes include:
The U.S. Department of Education is giving schools more flexibility with special-education students. Previously, only 1 percent of the total student population—the “severely cognitively disabled”—could be exempt from general testing and allowed to take an alternative assessment. Some school officials said the cap was too stringent because it did not accurately reflect the make-up of the special-education populations. Districts will now be able to apply to the state to exceed the 1-percent cap.
There will be a fairer way to assess Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and report their test results. Previously, schools could not get credit for LEP students achieving language proficiency because, once they achieved proficiency, they were removed from the LEP subgroup. Therefore, schools could be branded as not making progress even though their LEP students achieved proficiency. Now, the U.S. Department of Education will allow LEP children who achieve English proficiency to remain in the LEP subgroup for up to two years before they are removed from the subgroup. This constituted one of the primary recommendations in Standards, Accountability and Common Sense, a report by the Leadership for Educational Excellence, a coalition of education organizations including NJSBA.
NJSBA also advocated for the postponement of the NJ ASK 3 test for third graders to avoid implementation problems. In response, the state Department of Education will use this year’s administration of the test only as a benchmark. The test will be used for NCLB accountability purposes beginning next year.
The state Department of Education also agreed to apply the NCLB “safe harbor” provision to the fullest extent possible under the law. Safe harbor allows a school that does not have enough students achieving proficiency to still be considered as making progress as long as the school reduces the number of failing students by 10 percent.
Size of subgroups. In addition, the state has requested that the U.S. Department of Education approve other changes in the NCLB implementation plan—particularly, the size of the subgroups. The first change being considered by the federal government would increase the special-education subgroup from 20 to 35 students.
In addition, the federal government is considering the state’s request to raise the participation rate of the number of students who must take the state assessments. Under current requirements, 95 percent of any subgroup of students must be tested. But a subgroup can have as few as 20 children, meaning that just two students missing a test would lead to the entire school being labeled negatively. The state proposes raising the minimum number of students for the participation rate of a subgroup to 40.
The U.S. Department of Education is currently reviewing the proposed changes to subgroup size. A decision is expected before students return to school in the fall of 2004.
Founded more than 90 years ago, the New Jersey School Boards
Association represents the education and related health and
safety interests of New Jersey's 1.36 million public school
students and advocates the positions of the state's local school
Association also provides inservice training and technical
assistance to the state's 4,800 local board of education
board members, who serve without compensation, are the largest
group of elected and appointed public officials in the state.
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