Schools may face federal mandate
Depending on how Mat-Su students performed last week on federally mandated standardized tests, hundreds of kids may be eligible for education tutoring next year, under requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
According to NCLB, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2000, schools that fail for three straight years to show adequate yearly progress must provide economically disadvantaged students with special educational services if those schools receive Title 1 funds from the federal government.
Title 1 status is defined by the percentage of economically disadvantaged students attending a particular school.
The Mat-Su Borough School District determines economically disadvantaged students by counting those who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
Last year, nearly half of all Mat-Su schools, including several Title 1 schools, did not measure up to federal standards. For some of those schools, it was the second year in a row missing AYP.
AYP status is measured using 31 different academic variables, including attendance results and test scores in reading, writing and math.
Economically disadvantaged students attending Title 1 schools that missed the federal requirements were offered the option this year of attending an alternate school in their vicinity.
Few students chose that option this year. Next year, however, the stakes grow higher, with roughly a half dozen Title 1 schools that might be required to offer education services to eligible students if the school does not reach AYP for the third consecutive year.
Funding for the extra services is limited, however, and not all students in a failing Title 1 school will be eligible for tutoring. Students who are not economically disadvantaged won't receive the additional services, even if their academics are suffering.
In addition, depending on how many students apply for the educational services, even economically disadvantaged students may not receive the special services.
If there are more applications than there are funds, the school district will rank students by lowest achievement, in an effort to make sure the most needy students receive the academic help.
Funding for the services comes by the district setting aside 20 percent of all Title 1 money from the district's annual funds.
Once that money is set aside, each eligible student may receive up to $759 toward educational services. Eligible providers or tutoring programs include nonprofit groups, for-profit entities, faith-based organizations and schools or the school district.
The state Department of Education approved a list of all service providers, which is displayed at the DOE
The district will offer parents of eligible students a list of approved providers and all guidelines.
Parents will then be able to select the provider with whom they want to enter an agreement and the district will pay the contractors. Providers then have two years to show that students are making adequate academic progress.
The education services usually cost about $20 an hour, and represent about 38 hours of individual instruction time.
Joel Davidson may be reached at 352-2266 or joel.davidson@
Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES