Legislative Action Team Advisory

Friday, November 07, 2008

Legislative Update November 7, 2008

In this issue:

  • IRA Letter to President-Elect Obama
  • New Regulations Finalized for NCLB
  • Changes at ED re: Title III
  • Issues Early 2009: Audio Call November 18, 8 PM EST

    IRA Letter to President-Elect Obama to Emphasize Professional Development

    The IRA board of directors approved sending a letter to the president-elect. Linda Gambrell chairs the letter-drafting committee that includes Jay S. Blanchard, William T. Hammond, Marsha E. Lewis, Maryann M. Manning, James E. Newkirk, Brenda J. Overturf, Ray Reutzel, and advisor Richard C. Anderson. Staff members on the committee are Alan Farstrup, Richard Long, Cathy Roller, and Barbara Tierney. The Legislative Action Team supplied input via the September 2008 survey. Look for an article outlining survey responses in the November 2008 Reading Today.

    Recommendation to President-Elect:
    Emphasize Professional Development.
    Professional development is one of many tools a teacher should have access to with the goal of helping all of their students. Not all teachers need a massive amount of professional development. Target date to send the letter: mid-November. We will send the letter to the Legislative Action Team (LAT) when it is released. It will also be posted on the LAT blog at

    New Regulations Governing Title I of NCLB

    On October 29th, 2008 the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) issued new regulations governing parts of Title I of No Child Left Behind. Among the key elements: graduation requirements, growth models, supplemental education services, public school choice, and school improvement. For a copy of the regulations and a summary from US ED:

    These regulations are over 400 pages long and take effect on December 1, 2008. The graduation rate requirement will hold schools accountable for dropouts and others who do not graduate from high school with a regular diploma. Schools must have written confirmation that the student has enrolled in another school or educational program that culminates in a regular high school diploma. The schools can also use a separate formula (other than the primary four-year formula) to reflect that some students need more than four years to graduate. The regulations also cover areas such as when buildings don’t need to withhold 20% of their Title I Part A funds for Supplemental Education Services (SES) and public school choice. The regulations outline how a building can reallocate their 20% obligation and also what the penalty is for claiming that they don’t need these monies but later find they need them for SES and/or public school choice.

    While the U.S. Department of Education claims that many of these regulations reflect a new state of practice in implementing NCLB, others see that the new regulations will require a significant amount of time to implement. It is possible that the new Congress or Administration may make changes in the coming year. How likely this is to happen is hard to tell since many in Congress did not publicly raise any issues when comments were solicited at the notice of proposed rule making in April 2008.

    Changes at US ED and Title III

    In June 2008, the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) announced that it would change the program monitoring of Title III of NCLB. Title III is the section of NCLB that provides funds to those schools which apply and meet the criteria to provide English language acquisition programs to students who are ELLs.

    U.S. ED hopes to better coordinate both monitoring visits and how different facets of NCLB are integrated. However, some are worried that the ELL program may lose emphasis - either by a funding cut or by a loss of leadership at the U.S. Department of Education. While the monitoring function has shifted to Title I, the Office of English Language Acquisition will still be doing policy work.

    On October 2, 2008, U.S. ED sent a policy letter to the Chief State School Officer of each state outlining U.S. ED’s concerns around the use of funds for assessment programs and how they are –– or are not –– impacted by the supplement/not supplant requirements. The letter outlined how some schools are using federal funds to conduct assessments and points out that this is a local responsibility. The federal funds are designed to be used in addition to the local funds –– and not to replace the local funds.

    Issues in Early 2009: Audio Call Nov. 18, 8 PM EST

    The new president will face a wide range of challenges. He will create and submit a new budget shortly after he takes office, and deal with the funding for the current fiscal year. (Funding runs out in early March for most government agencies.) The new president and Congress will allocate resources and either change the funding plan for the balance of the fiscal year - or simply allow for the old policy to be maintained. Few expect that the old funding plan will simply be extended.

    Audio call: “What Is the Likely Education Agenda for President Obama?” – Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 8 PM EST. For more information contact

    I:\GR IRA\monthly updates\November 7 2008.doc


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