Schools Off List Requiring School Choice Under No Child Left Behind
percent of Illinois schools in “School Improvement 2” status
met “Adequate Yearly Progress” targets and will not be required
to provide options for students to transfer to a higher-performing public
school in the same district this fall, the State Board of Education reported
232 schools in 32 districts will be required to provide opportunities
this fall for students to choose to attend other higher-achieving public
schools in the district. Single-school districts would have to negotiate
“to the extent practicable” intergovernmental agreements with
neighboring districts to provide choice options for students, under provisions
of the new federal No Child Left Behind law.
is clear that these schools have really worked hard to help their students
progress toward meeting high standards,” said State Superintendent
of Education Respicio F. Vazquez. “We are especially pleased that
a large number of schools reached their Adequate Yearly Progress targets,
and our System of Support staff will continue working with them and the
ones that did not to help assure further student progress.”
One of the
main provisions of the No Child Left Behind law is to allow students in
low-performing schools to choose to attend other higher-performing public
schools within the district. Based on state assessment results showing
they did not make Adequate Yearly Progress in either 2000 or 2001, 402
schools from 64 districts were in line to provide choice this fall if
their students did not make AYP on state exams taken in April. Preliminary
results for these schools on 2002 tests show that 158 made AYP on the
2002 state standards-based tests.
Of the 158
that made Adequate Yearly Progress on 2002 tests, 78 are in City of Chicago
schools; the other 80 are in 31 districts throughout the state. Twelve
schools are no longer on the list because they do not now receive Title
I funding from the federal government, are now closed or converted to
high school only. NCLB choice requirements apply only to schools funded
through the Title I program that targets schools with large populations
of students from low-income families.
that scores ISATs was asked to speed up scoring for the 402 schools since
they potentially had to notify parents of choice options before the first
day of school. Parents have 30 days from the notification date to exercise
ISAT results for other schools and districts will not be available until
some time in August. State test results are reported to the public on
School Report Cards that must be issued by October 31.
232 do not make AYP on the spring 2003 tests, they will also be required
to offer supplementary education services (tutoring, after school programming,
etc.) to their students for the 2004-2004 school year. The state assessments
are given each April in mathematics, reading and writing to students in
3rd, 5th and 8th grades and in Science and Social Science to 4th and 7th-grade
of schools required to offer choice this fall includes only elementary
and middle/junior high schools; since statewide standards-based testing
of high schools students through the 11th grade Prairie State Achievement
Examination has only been required for two years, 2001 and 2002. Illinois
Standards Achievement Tests have been required for elementary students
for four years: 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Illinois Measure of Annual
Growth in English (IMAGE) tests are substituted for ISAT and PSAE tests
for students in bilingual programs for three years or less; Illinois Alternative
Assessments (IAA) are given to special education students whose Individual
Education Plans provide that state census tests are not appropriate.
report includes results from 2002 ISAT and IMAGE tests. Results of the
IAA, taken by a small percentage of the student population, have not yet
schools (in alphabetical order by district) on the 2002 School Improvement
2 list that made AYP on 2002 tests and those that did not and therefore
must offer choice options are accessible on the web at http://www.isbe.net/news/july15-02list.htm.
is an Overview of Public School Choice for Illinois Schools and a Question
and Answer document on the issue.
of Public School Choice for Illinois Schools
Public School Choice Option for Students in Low-Performing Schools
in certain low-performing schools the opportunity to attend a higher-performing
public school in the same district is one of the major components of the
new federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).
text of this law and Illinois’ federally approved application for
implementing the law can be found at www.isbe.net/nclb.
In addition, the text of a new state law (SB 1983, PA92-0604) which also
addresses NCLB implementation is located at http://www.legis.state.il.us/publicacts/pubact92/acts/92-0604.html.
Schools Which Must Offer the Public School Choice Option
state assessment results, elementary and middle/junior high schools that
a) on School
Improvement status, and
to make “adequate yearly progress” in 2001 and 2002 toward
all students meeting or exceeding the Illinois Learning Standards must
offer their students the choice to attend a higher-performing school in
the same district beginning in the fall of 2002.
School Choice Process
- No later
than August 1, the State Board of Education will tell school districts
which, if any, schools must offer choice beginning this fall.
to the beginning of the school year, districts must notify the parents
of students in those schools that they have the option of sending their
students to a higher-performing public school, including public charter
schools, in the same district.
then have 30 days from the date of notice to decide whether to exercise
the choice option.
who transfer to a higher-performing school shall be enrolled in classes
and other activities in the same manner as all other children at that
must provide transportation to the higher-performing schools as appropriate.
- In placing
students in higher-performing schools, districts must give priority
to the lowest achieving children from low-income families if there are
space or financial limitations.
- If there
are no higher-performing schools in the same district the district must,
to the extent practicable, enter into intergovernmental agreements with
neighboring districts to send its students to their higher-performing
Local Boards adopt a Public School Choice Policy
Board of Education recommends that each local school board establish and
implement a policy on public school choice for the possible transfer of
students from attendance centers identified for school improvement. It
is recommended that districts immediately affected approve a policy at
this time, and the remaining districts each complete one in 2002-03.
local policy should provide at least for the following, and would be in
addition to any current "choice" provisions:
to ensure parents are provided with school choice information (in an understandable
and uniform format and, to the extent practical, in a language the parents
can understand), prior to the first attendance day of the school year.
to ensure the lowest-achieving children from low-income families are given
first priority if there is space or financial limitations.
to provide or pay for transportation to receiving public schools.
to ensure that local school districts (LEAs) shall, to the extent practicable,
enter into intergovernmental agreements.
to ensure transfer students are enrolled in classes and other activities
in the same manner as all other children in the receiving public school.
regarding attendance capacity (consistent with state law and data provided
to ISBE on school construction).
to ensure parents exercise the choice option within thirty days of notice
upon their receipt of notice
to ensure students transferred through choice continue to be eligible
for transportation if their home school continues to fail to make Adequate
Yearly Progress (AYP) or if the receiving school fails to achieve AYP.
Questions about Public School Choice Under NCLB
of Schools and Students
schools are required to offer school choice? The Local Education Agencies
(local school districts) shall provide all students enrolled in the sanctioned
school with the option to transfer to another school that has not been
identified for school improvement. Schools that are Title I funded and
are in year one school improvement status, must offer parent choice.
single-school districts offer choice? NCLB requires that LEAs shall,
to the extent practicable, enter into intergovernmental agreement on this
issue and offer choice in these situations.
lowest performing students can leave a school in school improvement status,
is it possible that all students have the right to leave that school?
All students from the school in school improvement status are eligible,
however, students who are the lowest performing and in the highest poverty
have first priority. Another consideration is space availability.
Illinois schools will be required to offer choice in the 2002-03 school
year? Of the 64 districts that have 593 schools currently on the state
Academic Early Warning List, 55 districts have 232 schools that must offer
choice this fall. A list of those schools will be available at www.isbe.net
after July 16, 2002.
an eligible school identify and prioritize students for whom parents will
be offered choice? The intent of the federal law is to make choice
available to all eligible students, particularly for those families least
likely to be able to afford or access private school choices. A local
district policy should set the parameters for determining which students
in an eligible school will be prioritized for choice. The district policy
should provide for procedures to ensure the lowest achieving children
from low-income families are given first priority. “Seat space”
availability and/or financial limitations will need to be considered when
determining the number of students who can be offered choice. District
policy or procedures may include the following when ranking students:
ISAT assessment scores should be used as a primary indicator along
with IAA and IMAGE;
local assessment would need to be used in a K-3 attendance center
for determining lowest achieving students;
and Mathematics assessment data should be primary indicators;
indicators for determining targeted students could include writing,
social studies and science assessment scores;
lottery process for clustered students may be developed;
district may choose to create a ranking tool/matrix to assist in the
determination of choice.
If a district
has schools organized into clusters or zones, can a district restrict
the choice options to higher performing schools within that cluster or
zone? Yes, the district can restrict the options within a cluster/zone
as long as there is at least one higher performing school within the cluster/zone
that has space available.
school have the option to not notify parents of public school choice?
No, if a school is designated in school improvement, it must offer choice
to parents in the school.
can a student stay in the “choice school? Assuming the family
remains in the district, NCLB states that the student can stay in the
new school until completing the highest grade at that school. The district’s
obligation to provide transportation to the new school ends when the old
school is no longer in improvement status. If the school they move to
becomes a school in need of school improvement status, the student would
have the option to move again to another school in a subsequent year.
can a parent transfer a child if the school they select does not meet
expectations? The choice option can only be exercised once each school
parents need to be notified of choice and what are the districts responsibilities
for notice? The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires LEAs to
provide specific information to parents regarding the pubic school choice
option prior to the beginning of the school year. Local districts can
and should use Title I funds to launch public information campaigns on
this topic. Registered or certified letters are not required. Parents/guardians
have the responsibility for providing accurate and up-to-date information
on where they can be contacted by the district.
take to satisfy this requirement could include:
notification to the parents of the school, not later than the first day
of the school year, in the form of newsletters, mailings, public forums,
etc., that reflect the requirements under the Federal Law including current
school board policies and procedures related to “choice” and
the districts efforts for improvement through additional programming and
support that will be initiated in these high priority schools. (See sample
letter at the end of this document.)
letters/contact to parents of first priority students (students who are
the lowest performing and highest poverty) related to the “choice”
option including a response process. Public Act 92-0604 requires that
the choice option be exercised by a parent within 30 days of notice from
the district that the option is available.
3. Once a
choice has been made by the parent and “seat space” is available,
the district will proceed to notify parents/guardian of the available
choices either within the district or out of district and upon parent’s
final decision, next step procedures will be provided related to registration,
to ADA, Title 1 and other funding if parents choose to transfer to a higher
performing school in another district? Funding remains with the district/school
that is in school improvement. The transfer district receives funds based
on an Intergovernmental Agreement between the two districts.
responsible for paying student registration fees when a student transfer
to a “choice school”? Student registration fees continue
to be the responsibility of the student.
does a school that is required to offer choice have to transport children?
The LEA determines the distance that is reasonable to transport. In general,
LEAs would consider districts that are immediately adjacent to them or
those districts/schools that participate in other agreements with them,
have to offer out of district choice, does the district pay for transportation?
Yes, the law stipulates that districts must set aside 20% of their Title
I funding for public school choice transportation and supplemental services.
Of the 20%, 5% must be for supplemental services and 5% for choice transportation.
The remaining 10% can be divided among the two.
of transportation can be paid or reimbursed? School buses, public
transportation, cabs, reimbursement to parents for mileage and related
expenses and any other reasonable form of transportation are allowed.
Agreements and Options
an intergovernmental agreement include? As a result of NCLB, districts
shall make a “good faith effort” to enter into intergovernmental
agreement(s) on this issue and offer choice when there are no district
choice options. Such agreements should address key issues:
districts, prior to the start of the school year, which may be willing
to accept “choice” students through written communications
with appropriate and neighboring districts. Supporting documentation should
be maintained to document “good faith”.
a positive response from one or more neighboring districts, the LEA school
board attorney’s should be consulted for guidance and crafting of
the intergovernmental agreement. Issues to be considered are transportation,
tuition payments, student fees, extra curricular activities, parent notification,
and receipt of General State Aid (suggested method on this issue is making
it similar to the current practice regarding "lab schools").
Code references related to intergovernmental agreements may be found,
as follows: Ill. Const. Art. VII, Sec. 10(a), 5 ILCS 220/1, 105 ILCS 5/10-22.22c,
and 105 ILCS 5/10-22.31.
there be no positive responses from neighboring districts for offering
“choice”, documentation should be on record to verify the
LEAs “good faith effort”.
arrangements with neighboring districts are encouraged by the law, but
must neighboring districts agree to accept students? No, intergovernmental
agreements must be agreed to by both districts.
considered “good faith” effort by a district to provide choice
through intergovernmental agreement? At minimum a letter should be
sent to surrounding district superintendents, asking for that district
would agree to participate in an intergovernmental agreement. Copies of
these letters should be maintained to document these attempts and the
response to those attempts.
If a school
district borders another state, is the district obligated and/or allowed
to establish Interstate Governmental Agreements for the purpose of school
choice? Yes, Article 7, Section 10 of the Illinois Constitution allows
for cross-state governmental agreements. This, however, would present
an unusual legal situation and would require more research and discussion
among the two parties.
no surrounding districts will agree to intergovernmental agreements?
Under these circumstances, choice would not be available, but efforts
would need to be made each year.
private school be one of the choice options? No, private schools are
not choice options; however, public charter schools can be an option.
happen to racial balances in schools as students transfer among schools
through choice? A student may not transfer if the transfer would prevent
the school district from meeting its obligations under a state or federal
law court order or consent decree applicable to the school district.
that have selective admission criteria, require that students meet timelines
for application and/or pass specified tests? Yes, Public Act 92-0604,
(SB 1983) requires students to meet criteria of a school if the board
of education has established academic criteria for enrollment, unless
the school is the only attendance center serving the student's grade that
has not been identified for school improvement, corrective action, or
restructuring under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
If a school
is under capacity or has unused classrooms, is there an obligation to
open those spaces to accommodate school choice? State law (Public
Act 92-0604) provides that a school that exceeds, or as a result of the
transfer, would exceed its attendance capacity does not have to accept
students. However, if a school has space available in a higher performing
school, it is the obligation of the district to use that space to serve
students whose parents choose to send their child to that school.
If a student
chooses to enroll at an identified “choice school”, are future
test scores of that student reported to the higher-performing school or
the original home school? Student test scores are reported at the
higher-performing school to which the student transferred.
the responsibilities of receiving school? Receiving schools must recognize
the special intake procedural needs and transition needs of the transferred
students and their families as well as ensure that students who transfer
to their school are enrolled in classes and other activities in the same
manner as all other children at that school. This element should also
be addressed in local policy.