Hampton school officials have rejected a local family’s request for tuition reimbursement after allegations of racist bullying.
The family says their daughter, who is black, was bullied for her race by other students in her third-grade class.
The parents say the school district didn’t do enough to respond. They transferred their daughter to a private school in Massachusetts last month.
They asked the Hampton school board to help cover their new tuition with a reimbursement of the district’s per-pupil cost, under what’s called a manifest hardship designation.
The school board this week rejected that request, according to the family and district, who each declined to provide a copy of the decision.
The district’s lawyer, at a March hearing on the family’s request, had claimed the former student’s rights weren’t violated and argued the hardship designation is meant to cover transfers to another public school.
The family has 30 days to appeal the case to the state board of education and says they’re evaluating their options.
Wiley College President Herman Felton (UNCF photo)
Tuesday, April 9, Herman Felton, Ph.D., president and CEO of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, provided testimony before the House panel that decides the funding levels for all federal education programs. The House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee received public witness testimony from only 24 individuals to inform their crafting of the upcoming bill to fund the government for fiscal year 2020. The remarks provided by Dr. Felton focused on the funding and national benefits of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
A Marine Corps veteran and lifelong educator, Dr. Felton’s testimony was the first of the afternoon to receive bi-partisan support from both Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom J. Cole (R-OK). The funding leaders commended Wiley College (a UNCF-member institution) and similar HBCUs, for their work with first-generation college students, specifically for being an integral part of the American higher education fabric for decades. Chairwoman DeLauro added, concerning the $39 billion National Institutes of Health (NIH), “We will be sure that the center of our discussion and debate will be that we strengthen HBCUs.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) who introduced Dr. Felton to the Subcommittee prior to his testimony, noted that funding recommendations in Dr. Felton’s testimony “just make sense.”
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) worked with Congress to garner the opportunity for HBCUs to be represented in today’s proceedings. Dr. Felton echoed the priorities laid out by UNCF’s president and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax during the organization’s inaugural “State of the HBCUs Address” on March 5, including:
Increase funding for the discretionary “Strengthening HBCUs” Program to $375 million ($93 million increase over FY 2019);
Reauthorize the mandatory “Strengthening HBCUs” Program this year;
Fund the HBCU Capital Finance Program, including support for the deferment authority;
Double the Pell Grant award and support Second Chance Pell; and
Support funding to produce more African American health professionals and researchers, including at NIH.
“What we witnessed today was history,” commented Lodriguez V. Murray, UNCF’s vice president for public policy and government affairs. “One of our HBCU member presidents delivered remarks about the needs of all HBCUs and their students, weaving in the history of Wiley College. The goals are clear: increase resources necessary for the Pell-eligible and first-generation college students who have found an HBCU education to be a necessity; and allot the funding necessary for HBCUs to continue to remain competitive and thrive.”
Murray concluded, “The reception Dr. Felton received at the hearing showed, once again, that when we take a positive proactive agenda to Capitol Hill, bipartisanship is the response.”
Over the past few years, schools across the country have been opening up food pantries for students who may be struggling with food insecurity.
Here in New Hampshire, teachers at Rundlett Middle School in Concord have opened up their own. Biz Logan is one of the teachers responsible for the creation that is known as the “Blue Duke Care Closet,” named for the school’s mascot. He spoke to NHPR’s Peter Biello.
What made you decide to start this at Rundlett?
I’ve been teaching here at Rundlett for ten years, I was a special education teacher, but most recently moved over to teaching health. So you’re talking a lot about nutrition in the classroom, realizing that food insecurity is an issue at our school, and it’s hard to talk about nutrition and eating healthy when students are struggling just to find food at home. That was the first thing. We have 36 percent, I think, of our population is free and reduced lunch at our school, which is higher than the state average. We knew that it was a problem and something that maybe we could target here at Rundlett.
When students come to the Blue Duke Care Closet, are they getting food for that day at school or are it for home after school or on the weekends?
The first goal for us was to provide food on the weekends because what we realized that these students who at least were qualifying for free and reduced lunch, they were being fed here at school, breakfast and lunch, so we were more worried about the weekends. What we do right now is students receive a bag on a Friday afternoon, they bring it home, and that will provide them with meals for the weekend…
New Hampshire Public Radio interview with Phillip Atiba Goff, PhD, co-founder and president of the Center for Policing Equity, and an expert in contemporary forms of racial bias and discrimination, as well as the intersections of race and gender.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has given six more states the thumbs-up on their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act: Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, and New Hampshire.
These approvals bring the grand total of approved state ESSA plans to 33, plus Puerto Rico’s and the District of Columbia’s. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia submitted plans last spring, and all but one of those states, Colorado, have been approved. Another 34 states turned in plans last fall, and so far, 18 have been approved.
So what do the approved plans look like? Below are some highlights of the state’s draft applications…
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information:
The U.S. Department of Education is cranking out responses to state’s plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act at a fast and furious pace. The latest states to hear back are: Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. (Scroll down to see which other states have gotten feedback and who has been approved.)
All five states, whose feedback letters were released Thursday, have work to do on the nuts-and-bolts of the accountability plans, their ideas for identifying and fixing schools, and more. Here’s a quick look at some highlights of the responses. Click on the state name to read the full letter.
Hawaii: The department wants the Aloha State to identify languages other than English spoken by a significant number of students. States must “make every effort” to offer tests in those languages, according to ESSA. And Hawaii needs to be more specific about what it will take for a school to get out of low-performing status. Right now, Hawaii says those schools need to make “significant improvement,” but it doesn’t say what that means. Hawaii also needs to make sure disadvantaged and minority students have access to their fair share of qualified teachers.
Kentucky: Kentucky needs to make sure that its English-language proficiency indicator stands alone, right now, it’s lumped in with other indicators in the state’s accountability system. The state also needs to make clear that it is targeting schools as “chronically underperforming” because of the performance of historically overlooked groups of students and not for another reason. And Kentucky cannot include writing test scores as part of a school’s overall “academic achievement” score, because those tests aren’t offered in every grade…
Read the full story here: May require an Education Week subscription.
As unpopular as No Child Left Behind was by the time it was ushered off the stage in 2015, advocates for students with disabilities could always point to one aspect of the law that they liked: by requiring that test scores of different student groups be reported separately, the law exposed the low academic performance of students in special education and required schools to do something about it.
The replacement for NCLB, the Every Student Succeeds Act, still requires that the academic performance of students with disabilities be reported, along with other student subgroups.
But the law trades federal mandates for state flexibility on what should happen to a school whose students with disabilities are consistently lagging their peers.
States and some lawmakers have cheered the end of what they call federal overreach. But some advocates worry that the accountability goals states have set for themselves won’t move the needle for a group of students who have long struggled with low achievement. At worst, they worry, states can create rules that allow the performance of students with disabilities to again be obscured by the relatively higher test scores of the general student population.
“A lot of the really crucial decisionmaking got left to the states,” said Ricki Sabia, the senior policy advisor at the National Down Syndrome Congress. “Our concern was with how they would use this discretion.”
A reading of the draft plans illustrates some of Sabia’s and Cortiella’s concerns. In New Mexico’s accountability blueprint, for example, it set a goal for itself to increase the high school graduation rate of students with disabilities to 79 percent in 2022, up from 62 percent in 2016.
At the same time, however, the plan sets a goal to have 50 percent of students with disabilities scoring proficient on the state’sEnglish/language arts and math assessments by 2022. That’s an ambitious goal—less than 7 percent of New Mexican special education students meet that bar now.
But “it is difficult to understand how [students with disabilities] can be expected to graduate at a rate of 79 percent in 4 years while just 50 percent are expected to be proficient in reading and math,” Sabia and Cortiella wrote in a letter intended to support local advocates.
Another concern is that the goals for students with disabilities are too low. New York, for example, is aiming for 63 percent of its students with disabilities to graduate with a standard diploma by 2022, up from 55 percent in 2016. New York notes that its end goal for all students, including students with disabilities, is a 95 percent graduation rate. But it also proposes resetting its goals each year.
Educators didn’t like the 100-percent proficiency goal that was embedded in the old law, Sabia said. “But how do you say that some students aren’t going to be proficient? How do you say it’s OK if 5 percent or 10 percent aren’t? That’s what some of these new plans do.”
The education nonprofit Achieve, in its analysis of state plans, found that 26 states and the District of Columbia set the same long-term graduation goal for all subgroups. Twenty-four states set different end point goals for students with disabilities and other subgroups.
Others have pointed not to what’s in the state plans, but what they believe has been left out. Laura Kaloi is a government relations policy consultant with the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a group that represents children in special education and their families. COPAA was looking for states to offer specific plans about how to prevent bullying and harassment, discipline that removes children from the classroom, and “aversive behavioral interventions that compromise student health and safety.”
In an examination of the state plans that were submitted this spring, she said, those topics were not addressed.
“We know many, many school districts need work in this area,” Kaloi said.
The plans are light on some details because states were not required by the law to provide them. In March, the Senate overturned some accountability guidelines that were passed during the Obama administration, saying they were too prescriptive and not keeping in the spirit of the law and its focus on state-based accountability. For example, the law requires states to identify a minimum number of students in a particular subgroup that a school would have to enroll in order for that group to be counted in school accountability, known as the N-size. Under the ESSA accountability rules that the Senate threw out, states could select any N-size but had to offer a justification if they chose a number over 30. The Education Department does not require states to provide a justification for its N-size selection.
Some states, such as Ohio, have chosen to provide such justification, however, suggesting that in some cases states are committing to a more rigorous standard.
Ohio is moving from an N-size of 30 down to 15 by the 2019-2020 school year, which means that more schools will potentially be subject to accountability measures. After the change, 86 percent of the state’s schools will have to report on the progress of the special education subgroup, compared to 58 percent that are required to do so now.
Melissa Turner, the senior manager for state policy for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said her organization is also examining the state plans, with an eye to strong accountability for student subgroups, clearly defined policies that explain how states will help struggling groups of students, and greater use of accommodations and the appropriate use of “alternate assessments.”
ESSA places a 1 percent cap on the percentage of all students who can take alternate assessments. That equates to about 10 percent of students with disabilities. Such alternate assessments are intended for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Some groups, such as NCLD, have been concerned that schools have steered students to the alternate assessments in the past, instead of providing the teaching and support that would allow students to take the same tests as their peers in general education.
Turner mentioned some plans that stand out as potentially positive for students with disabilities. Iowa, for example, has organized its ESSA accountability blueprint around “multitiered systems of support,” which are intended to provide research-backed instruction for all students in academics and in social-emotional development.
Turner also singled out New Hampshire for its plans for personalized learning. “That’s something that we applaud. We think that’s a strong opportunity for states to meet the needs of all kids,” she said.
The organization is concerned, as other groups are, about different goals for different student subgroups. If the overall graduation rate goal is 95 percent, it should be the same for students with disabilities, she said.
“We’re really hoping to see that gap narrow in the long-term goals,” she said.
Former Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., an Every Student Succeeds Act architect, was one of the most prominent voices clamoring for more local control over K-12 when the law was wending its way through Congress.
But now Kline is worried that at least two states, Arizona and New Hampshire, have passed laws that skirt key “guardrails” in the law aimed holding schools accountable and protecting students’ civil rights.
Congress, Kline writes in a commentary for Education Week, made the conscious decision to stick with statewide tests so that parents could compare results from one school district to the next. But new laws in both states seem to fly in the face of that rule, which is a key part of the balance lawmakers were going for in writing ESSA…
By: Michelle Croft and Richard Lee ACT Research and Policy
Despite (or because of) the federal requirement that all students in certain grades participate in statewide achievement testing, stories of parents opting their student out of the testing gained national attention in the media in the spring of 2015. Ultimately, twelve states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin—received a notice from the U.S. Department of Education that they needed to create a plan to reduce opt-outs due to low participation rates.
When statewide testing came in spring 2016, there were more stories of opt-outs, and information about districts failing to meet participation requirements will follow in the coming months.3 Early reports from New York indicate that 21% of students in grades 3–8 opted out in 2016, which was slightly more than the prior year. (See attached PDF below for reference information.)
Participation Rate Requirements
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (both the No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds authorizations) requires that all students annually participate in statewide achievement testing in mathematics and English in grades 3–8 and high school as well as science in certain grade spans. Ninety-five percent of students at the state, district, and school level must participate; otherwise there is a range of consequences.
Under the No Child Left Behind authorization, the school would automatically fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress if the school—or subgroups of students within the school—did not meet the participation rate requirement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with greater flexibility to determine how to incorporate the participation rate into the state’s accountability system. However, in proposed regulations, the state will need to take certain actions such as lowering the school’s rating in the state’s accountability system or identifying the school for targeted support or improvement, if all students or one or more student subgroups do not meet the 95% participation rate.
Michelle Croft is a principal research associate in Public Affairs at ACT. Richard Lee is a senior analyst in Public Affairs at ACT.