Federal Update – July 2016

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WHAT AUTHORIZERS NEED TO KNOW, NOW: JULY 2016

The US Department of Education continued to release proposed rules for aspects of ESSA Implementation, most notably Title I Accountability and Report Cards; and Title I Assessments.

NACSA continues to represent your interests as authorizers as these rules develop. Read the summary below and register your name in support of the proposed Assessment rules.

Register Your Support!

Title I Accountability and Report Cards

Comment Period Ended August 1, 2016. Read a summary of NACSA’s comments to the US Department of Education.

The proposed Accountability rules shape what a State includes in its report card and accountability systems, including:

  1. What criteria a state uses to evaluate schools and districts (including academic and non-academic)
  2. What performance levels earn schools different “ratings” on a state report card;
  3. The reporting requirements for states, districts, and schools on a variety of factors; and,
  4. How a state will guide, oversee, and implement school improvement efforts for identified districts and schools.

Read NACSA’s official comments to the Department on these rules, with a focus on proposed provisions that will impact charter school authorizers. This includes proposed new reporting requirements, as well as optional provisions governing school improvement and intervention.

Title I Assessments

Comment Period Ends September 9, 2016

The proposed Assessment rules, a result of Negotiated Rulemaking conducted in March and April this year, shape how States will demonstrate compliance with Title I assessment regulations, including:

  1. Alternative assessments and achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities;
  2. The assessment of English learners;
  3. The use of locally selected, nationally recognized high school academic assessments (such as the ACT or SAT); and,
  4. Assessment flexibility for students taking advanced middle school mathematics.

Earlier this year, NACSA worked within the Negotiated Rulemaking Process to include a special provision for charter school accountability in the proposed rules that will govern the new high school assessment flexibility. The provision requires charter schools to consult with their authorizer before applying to the State to use a different assessment.

Federal Appropriations: Charter School Program

The annual appropriations process is in full swing, with the House and Senate conducting hearings on the funding bills that include the Charter School Program grant.

NACSA is following this closely, as this funding bill, the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services and Other Agencies (FY17 LHHS in Hill-speak), will be the first to fund the NEW and IMPROVED Charter School Program under the rules of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new program contains a lot of great things for charter school authorizers, including requiring states to set aside at least seven percent of the grant for statewide improvement activities such as supporting authorizer quality initiatives.

In April, we sent a letter to House and Senate leaders calling for a fair funding distribution that honored ESSA. This month, the House Appropriations Committee voted on a funding bill that included just such a distribution. This is in contrast to a proposal released by the Senate last month that would instead allow the US Department of Education to fund the Replication and Expansion program (colloquially the CMO program) at nearly 160 percent of its ESSA authorization levels.

The Senate and House proposals are markers for the continuing negotiations, which are expected to resume in the Fall.