Category Archives: NCLB

2015 State Report Card

The DE released the 2015 State Report Card for No Child Left Behind earlier this week. The report includes a list showing the status of every district and every school in the state. The designations are based on whether schools met or did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals or Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) proficiency targets in math and reading.

  • Met–school met AYP
  • SINA-X–school failed to meet AYP two years in a row, the value of X indicates how many years the school has had a SINA designation
  • Delay–school met AYP for one year, will be removed from SINA status if meets AYP again in the current year
  • Watch–school failed to meet AYP for one year, will be designated SINA status if fails to meet AYP again in the current year.
  • Removed–indicates that the school was removed from watch status after making AYP for one year, or removed from SINA status after making AYP for two years

Here, for what it is worth, is how ICCSD schools fared (school name followed by status for math, then status for reading):

  • City High School  SINA-6, SINA-6
  • West High School  SINA-2, SINA-9
  • Tate High School  SINA-9, SINA-9
  • NCJH  SINA-3, SINA-4
  • NWJH  SINA-9, SINA-11
  • SEJH  SINA-11, SINA-12
  • Borlaug  Removed-Watch, Removed-Watch
  • Coralville Central  SINA-5, SINA-4
  • Garner  SINA-3, Delay-2
  • Hills  SINA-3, Delay-2
  • Hoover  Delay-1, Delay-2
  • Horn  SINA-1, SINA-1
  • Kirkwood  SINA-7, SINA-7
  • Lemme  SINA-4, SINA-4
  • Lincoln  Watch, Met
  • Longfellow  Watch, Removed-SINA
  • Lucas  SINA-7, SINA-6
  • Mann  SINA-2, Delay-1
  • Penn  SINA-5, SINA-6
  • Shimek  Watch, SINA-1
  • Twain  SINA-7, SINA-8
  • Van Allen  Met, Delay-3
  • Weber  SINA-1, SINA-1
  • Wickham  Watch, Watch
  • Wood  SINA-7, SINA-7

The full list of districts starts here (with ICCSD here) and the full list of schools (by district) starts here (with the list of ICCSD schools starting here).

The Gazette has coverage here. The Press-Citizen has coverage here and a guest opinion piece from Mike Petrelli and Robert Pondisco (about Common Core test results generally), with which there is so much wrong, I’m not even going to get started commenting on it.

For a preview of what is coming to Iowa, as the State Board of Education moves ahead with adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessments, keep an eye on California, where, the LA Times reports in an article titled New California tests present sobering picture of student achievement, students “performed close to expectations based on a field test given in 21 states two years ago.”

So I’ll leave you with a few charts I made last fall on predicted SBAC performance based on information released when cut scores were announced last year and a question: how will labeling even more Iowa students not proficient help Iowa students and their schools?

Possible changes in Iowa proficiency rates based on predicted SBAC performance compared to Iowa Assessments results for 2011-2013:

Math 2

Reading 2


Following ESEA Reauthorization?

Me neither.

Since the end of Iowa’s legislative session, I’ve been largely following local school issues which include the ongoing saga of crafting a long term master facilities plan that may close one or more local school buildings and the use of school buildings as polling places and whether neighborhood residents exercising the right to vote constitute a security threat to school children.

But, I see on Twitter that the U.S. House of Representatives is debating an ESEA reauthorization bill–HR 5, Student Success Act–today.  You can follow along on Twitter at #ESEA or check out coverage at EdWeek.

In other news I’m not closely following just yet, there are twenty-six applicants vying to be selected as the next Director of the Iowa Department of Education.  The Gazette has a list of applicants and application documents.

Cure Worse Than The Disease?

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the need for a waiver from NCLB requirements.  So, inspired by this comparison of NCLB versus the Connecticut waiver request (HT @daskmartin), I thought I would write a quick overview of Iowa’s waiver request.

College- and Career-Ready Expectations for All Students

  • Adoption of the Common Core Standards
  • Statewide implementation of Response to Intervention and PBIS
  • Implementation of Smarter Balanced Assessments by 2014
  • “Model” curriculum by July 2013
  • Art, music, and world languages standards
  • End-of-course of assessments aligned with the Iowa Core by 2014
  • Required college entrance exam by 2014
  • Optional career readiness assessment by 2014
  • Switch to InTASC teaching standards
  • Teacher career pathways

State-Developed Differentiated Recognition, Accountability, and Support

Performance goals:

  • 100% of school buildings will have at least 80% of students proficient in math and reading.
  • 100% of students will make at least a year’s growth in a year’s time

Current Annual Measurable Objectives:

  • Make or miss AYP (based on reading scores, math scores, participation in accountability testing plus graduation and attendance rates).
  • Subgroups must include at least 30 students (at the school level?).
  • All schools are expected to meet the same targets.

Waiver Proposed Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO):

  • The DE will calculate AMO trajectories for each school and each eligible subgroup in each school that will depend upon current distance from the statewide performance goals, such that all schools will meet statewide achievement score target of 85 at the end of ten years.  [Note page 57: only 25 of over 1300 schools currently have an achievement score at 85 or higher.]
  • Eligible subgroups must include at least 10 students at the district or school level (more subgroups will have reportable results than under the NCLB 30 student rule).

All schools will be classified under a new classification system (and all schools and districts, regardless of classification, would be required to complete Continuous School Improvement Plans):

  • Distinguished (Exceptional for three or more consecutive years)
  • Exceptional
  • High Performing
  • Commendable
  • Acceptable
  • Needs Improvement (Focus)
  • Priority
  • Unacceptable (Focus or Priority for three consecutive years)

Schools will be classified according to a Performance Index Score (0 to 100 points possible), a Closing Gap Score (percentage of subgroups meeting AMOs), participation in accountability testing of at least 95% for all students and each subgroup (n=20), and a graduation rate of at least 60% for all students and each subgroup (n=10).  [See page 51 for a chart showing numbers required to fall into each classification category.]

The Performance Index is made up of two parts, an achievement score based on reading and mathematics assessments (with equal weighting for proficiency and growth for all students) worth up to 80 points and Other Academic Indicators (OAI) worth up to 20 points.

OAIs by type of school (see pages 60-62 for charts showing how points will be awarded in each category):

  • High School: graduation rate (10 points), college ready rates (5 points), attendance rates (5 points).  [Note college ready is calculated from Iowa Assessment scores at each level that track to earning a college ready score on the ACT.]
  • Middle/Junior High School: college ready rates (10 points) and attendance rates (10 points).
  • Elementary Schools: attendance rates (10 points) and 3rd grade reading proficiency rates (10 points).

The DE proposes to add more measures to this accountability system in the future including, Smarter Balanced Assessments, end-of-course exams, college entrance exams, post-graduation data, career readiness exam, safe and supportive schools indicators (suspension and expulsion rates, parent satisfaction, levels of students engagement, staff working conditions), and Response to Intervention measures.

Reward schools (Exceptional/Distinguished): will get state recognition (including special logos), will have to write CSIPs but will have some autonomy in identifying areas for improvement, and can apply to become Studio Schools to mentor other schools.

The DE plans to seek administrative law changes to apply interventions and sanctions to non-Title I schools in addition to the Title I schools affected by NCLB.  Interventions and sanctions for Focus/Priority/Unacceptable schools may include: parent notification, charter options, a state review panel, and set aside of 20% of Title I funds for implementing turnaround principles, extended learning opportunities (tutoring or summer school), and professional development.

Supports for all schools in the state include implementing Response to Intervention, PBIS, and anti-bullying programs; and implementing the Iowa Core and universal constructs.

And, a quote from page 105, just because it made me laugh: “Since Iowa is a local control state, the selection of professional development providers is a local district decision.”  Is this what school board elections are all about–choice of professional development providers?

Supporting Effective Instruction and Leadership

This section includes the teacher/administrator evaluation changes, including requiring the use of “student outcome measures” as part of the evaluations.  The DE plans to develop measures of student achievement for “untested subjects” for use in evaluating teachers of those subject areas.

Note that in an article about Senator Harkin’s decision not to run for re-election, Education Week notes that Harkin’s ESEA reauthorization bill would not require student achievement to be used as part of evaluating teachers.

Is the cure worse than the disease?  I think so for several reasons.  First, it incorporates accountability by high stakes testing into state law–if the ESEA reauthorization substantially changes the worst parts of NCLB, we’ll still be stuck with it until state law is also amended/repealed–not necessarily an easy thing.  Second, it seeks to apply NCLB accountability interventions and sanctions to all schools in the state, not just the ones receiving Title I funds (except required SINA transfers, which may be the only thing a successful waiver application actually rids us of) which is a pretty high price to pay for accepting roughly ninety million dollars of Title I funds per year.  Third, tying student test scores to teacher evaluations is controversial and is not required by either NCLB or Harkin’s ESEA reauthorization bill.  Finally, because I still believe that the route to better schools is political accountability at the local level (ie. local control) rather than top down, high-stakes-testing-driven accountability.

If we are desperate enough to pass bad law this session to escape NCLB requirements, let’s just refuse the ninety million dollars instead–surely we can find state money this year to replace those funds.  Otherwise, why not wait and see what relief ESEA reauthorization might bring?

Pointing Fingers on NCLB [updated]

Update: The Iowa Budget Report 2014-2015 has a FY2013 current year budget estimate for ESEA Title I funds of $90,001,401.  (See page 296)

The Iowa City Press-Citizen’s Christmas Day staff editorial ran under the headline “Failure to reform means no NCLB waiver for state“.

It’s not often that Iowa’s Republican governor and Iowa’s Democratic junior U.S. senator agree on a topic. But when it came to affixing blame for why Iowa was denied a waiver from federal No Children Left Behind standards, both Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Tom Harkin pointed in the same direction: toward the Iowa Legislature.

First, it seems to me that it is ridiculous for state legislators to be blamed for the foreseeable consequences of a near universally-despised federal law.  Senators Grassley and Harkin, who actually voted to pass NCLB, might be more deserving of blame.

Second, just because NCLB is bad doesn’t mean we should do just anything to avoid the consequences; sometimes the cure really is worse than the disease.

Iowa’s NCLB waiver application, it’s failure to win federal approval, it’s effect on SINA transfers, and the difficulty of rejecting federal money have been previously addressed on this blog.

What hasn’t been previously addressed is just how much federal money is involved.

As far as I can tell, the NCLB requirements are tied entirely to the receipt of Title I funds.  By my calculations, Iowa schools received approximately eighty-five million dollars under Title I for the 2012-13 school year.  (See the 2012-2013 Title I Allocations report available here.  Note to DE: why not provide a sum total at the end of the report?  Note to readers: if you have better numbers/information, please leave a comment.)

To put that $85,000,000 in perspective, it amounts to:

  • 1.3% to 1.7% of Iowa’s annual education spending*
  • Less than 2% allowable growth
  • Less than half of the $177.5 million requested for Branstad’s education reform package centered largely on establishing new teacher career pathways

Just something to keep in mind when people are clamoring for the legislature to hurry up and adopt anything necessary to earn a waiver from NCLB.

*The percentage depends on whether you use the numbers from the 2011 Annual Condition of Education Report or the 2010-2011 Certified Financial Report (CAR), links to both of which may be found in this post on federal education spending.  Probably someone should write a post about the mysteries of education spending numbers.

NCLB Reprieve

The U.S. Department of Education has approved a one-year target freeze for AYP requirements under NCLB.  From The Gazette, it appears that the proficiency rate required will remain at 80% instead of rising to 87% this year.

Presumably this means there will be no relief from SINA requirements for schools already identified, but perhaps fewer schools will be added to the SINA list this year.

See the Iowa DE news release here.

Federal Education Spending

At A Blog About School, Chris asks:

On the other hand, would it really be so hard for a state to pass up federal education funding and the (often expensive) mandates that go with it? As Roberts writes, “In the typical case we look to the States to defend their prerogatives by adopting ‘the simple expedient of not yielding’ to federal blandishments when they do not want to embrace the federal policies as their own. . . . The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.” When it comes to No Child Left Behind, I wish they would act like it.

Using data from 2010-2011 Certified Financial Report (CAR) available here and data from the 2011 Annual Condition of Education Report available here:

  • 473,493 – certified enrollment (includes 4,804 students categorized as “other”)
  • $5,083,072,157 – general fund expenditures
  • $10,735 – general fund expenditures per student [COE reports $8,603 (or $9,455 from all funds)?]
  • $6,736,487,614 – local/intermediate/state/federal revenue
  • $14,227 – local/intermediate/state/federal revenue per student
  • $7,779,499,880 – total revenue (includes bonding and other sources)
  • $16,430 – total revenue per student
  • $640,301,946 – federal revenue (includes temporary ARRA funding)
  • $1,352 – federal revenue per student (includes temporary ARRA funding)
  • Federal revenue as percent of local/intermediate/state/federal revenue: 9.5%
  • Federal revenue as percent of total revenue: 8.2%

In short, for chipping in a dime or less, the feds tell us how to spend the whole dollar.  [Sometimes the feds don’t even have to chip in the money to get the states to do what they want.]

Note that we have no accounting for the compliance costs of accepting the federal revenue.  That is, it seems likely that if Iowa rejected the federal funds, we might save some of the money forgone by ending compliance activities and federally mandated programs that we don’t want to continue.  The rest of the money could be made up with some combination of short term spending freezes and slightly higher state or local taxes.

So why won’t we see Iowa rejecting federal money?  Here’s a few thoughts:

It’s easy to run the ad “incumbent cut education spending!”  It’s harder for the incumbent to explain the trade offs (preserving local/state control, less spending on compliance/unfunded mandates), especially when people may see federal money as “free” or as a return of Iowans’ federal taxes or the strings-attached as good ones.

Federal money pays for school lunch programs.  Even if we make up that money with state money, it’s easy to run the ad “incumbent wants poor children to go hungry at school!”

Austerity measures and higher taxes are unpopular, possibly even less popular than NCLB.

Legislative Update 5/1

The conference committee on SF 2284 has not had a meeting scheduled since last Tuesday (April 24th).

Governor Branstad is urging legislators to wrap up the session this week and to pass a bold education reform bill.  Branstad suggested that the Senate version may not be substantial enough to obtain an NCLB waiver.  (See Radio Iowa coverage here.)