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Published in Washington Post
10/07/2005

To the editor


Hurricanes Katrina and Rita displaced hundreds of thousands of children, severely disrupting their educations. But contrary to the Sept. 30 news story " 'No Child' Rules to Be Eased for a Year," measures I announced to help these students do not represent a "significant shift" away from accountability. Schools severely affected by the hurricanes may delay certain consequences under the No Child Left Behind Act for as long as a year -- but only if they can demonstrate next spring that the hurricanes caused them to miss their annual goals.



Accountability remains the linchpin of the No Child Left Behind law. Students will have to be tested and results reported to parents and the public as before.





We also are allowing affected schools to count hurricane-displaced students as a separate subgroup. Instead of writing off the year, school administrators will be able to factor in the influx of new students on overall school performance.



Finally, we have exercised a provision in the law that exempts schools in the disaster areas from penalties under "exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances," for which this obviously qualifies.

Margaret Spellings, U. S. Secretary of Education


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