A coalition of statewide education groups this month asked Acting Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy to make critical changes to New Jersey’s implantation plan for the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
The state Department of Education must submit changes to the plan, the Consolidated State Accountability Workbook, to the federal education department by April 1.
In a March 20 letter to Commissioner Davy, the coalition (Leadership for Educational Excellence), which includes NJSBA, made the following recommendation:
- A uniform size for all reportable subgroups of no smaller than 35 students. Currently, any subgroup of 20 students or more counts toward a school’s or a district’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This has resulted in the over-identification of schools as being in need of improvement. Currently, only the special education subgroup must have at least 35 students to count toward AYP. Having a uniform subgroup, or “n-size,” will also allow New Jersey to take advantage of other types of flexibility offered by the U.S. Education Department.
- The use of “confidence intervals” to the maximum extent allowable under federal law for both Adequate Yearly Progress and Safe Harbor calculations. Confidence intervals assume that one day of testing may not be an accurate snapshot of a school’s performance and allow flexibility regarding the proficiency levels.
- The return to averaging grades separately, thereby reversing the decision made last year to aggregate or “bundle” data across grades. Bundling negates the purpose of the subgroups because it puts multiple grades together, effectively creating more subgroups and thus more indicators necessary to achieve AYP. This type of data manipulation has nothing to do with student performance and is hindering New Jersey’s efforts toward 100% student proficiency by 2014.
NJSBA and the LEE Group are planning to continue to work with DOE after April 1 on additional changes to the Workbook for next year. Some of the issues that they hope to focus on include defining the graduation rate, instituting growth models, studying the use of indexing, the calculation of safe harbor and the use of alternate proficiency assessments for the special education population.
For more information about NJSBA’s state-level advocacy on NCLB or to get involved, call the NJSBA Governmental Relations Department at 1-888-88NJSBA, extension 5215.