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Tuesday, April 22, 2008



April 22, 2008 

CONTACT:        Samara Yudof or Elissa Leonard
                (202) 401-1576    



Focus on Improved Accountability and Transparency, Uniform and Disaggregated Graduation Rates and Improved Parental Notification

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced proposed new regulations to strengthen and clarify No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  The proposed regulations focus on improved accountability and transparency, uniform and disaggregated graduation rates and improved parental notification for Supplemental Education Services and public school choice.  The Secretary made the announcement at the Detroit Economic Club in Detroit, Mich.

“I’m proposing new policy tools that will give families lifelines - and empower educators to create dramatic improvement,” said Secretary Spellings.  “Many are actions that have gained broad support through conversations on how to strengthen No Child Left Behind.  While I will continue working with legislators to renew this law, I also realize that students and families and teachers and schools need help now.  So, at the President’s request, I’m moving forward to empower educators to take actions that families have been waiting for.”

The Secretary noted that these new regulations build on NCLB’s positive results and are consistent with the law’s core principles of annual testing, publishing data and helping schools that fall behind.  She added that in her travels to nearly two dozen states -- which included meetings with governors, state school chiefs and state legislatures -- discussions focused on how states and districts can improve struggling schools, more accurately measure dropout rates and chart student progress over time. 

Several of the proposed regulations seek to clarify elements of the law that demand school systems be accountable for results and transparent in their reporting to parents and the public, including requiring that states publish data from the Nation’s Report Card alongside data from their own tests for students.  The Secretary emphasized that measures of student academic achievement may include multiple types of questions and multiple assessments within a subject area.  In addition, a state’s accountability system must ensure the inclusion of all sub-groups of students by adopting appropriate N-sizes.

Building on the Department’s growth model pilot program, the proposed regulations would outline the criteria that States must meet in order to incorporate individual student progress into the State’s definition of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  Secretary Spellings is also proposing to strengthen the provisions of the law on school restructuring.  Schools in restructuring need the most significant intervention, and a recent study found that 40 percent of schools in restructuring did not implement any of the restructuring options under the law.  The proposed regulations will clarify that restructuring interventions must be more rigorous and that interventions must address the reasons for the school being in restructuring.

To continue the dialogue and address some of the more technical needs of the states and their departments of education, Secretary Spellings proposed the creation of a National Technical Advisory Council.  The council will be made up of experts in the fields of education standards, accountability systems, statistics and psychometrics and be tasked with advising the Department on highly complex and technical issues and ensuring state standards and assessments are of the highest technical quality.

Noting that, according to a recent study, 75 percent of high school students in Detroit public schools do not graduate on time, Secretary Spellings announced the Department would build on the work of the National Governor’s Association to establish a uniform graduate rate that shows how many incoming freshman in a given high school graduate within four years. 

“Over their lifetimes, dropouts from the class of 2007 alone will cost our nation more than 300 billion dollars in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity,” said Secretary Spellings. “Increasing graduation rates by just five percent, for male students alone, would save us nearly eight billion dollars each year in crime-related costs.”

All states would use the same formula to calculate how many students graduate from high school on time and how many drop out.  The data would then be made public so that educators and parents can compare how students of every race, background and income level are performing.

States will be allowed to use an interim calculation on a transitional basis, but every high school in every state will be required to report new graduation rates for accountability purposes no later than 2013.  In the meantime, each state will be responsible for setting a graduation rate goal and for disaggregating data by subgroup to report and determine AYP.  Beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year, in order to make AYP, a school or district would have to meet the graduation goal or demonstrate their continuous and substantial improvement from the prior year.  

Additionally, the Secretary is proposing rules to ensure parents are notified in a clear and timely way about their public school choice and supplemental education service options.  The proposed regulations will ensure that states make more information available to the public about what tutoring providers are available, how these providers are approved and monitored, and most importantly, how effective they are in helping students improve.

“Research has shown that effective tutoring programs can reduce the achievement gap by 10 to 15 percent,” said Secretary Spellings.  “The problem is, these options will not make a difference if parents don’t know they’re available.  I hope these proposed regulations will assist parents in getting the extra help their children may need to succeed.” 

The regulations proposed by the Secretary are published online in today’s Federal Register for public comment.  Hard copies of the Federal Register will be available on Wednesday, April 23. 

For further information on how the regulations will strengthen NCLB, including a link to the Federal Register, please visit



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