Inside the Law
SES Effectiveness Is a Matter of Debate
Two reports recently released on the successfulness of the Supplemental Educational Services options under the No Child Left Behind law-one by the Education Industry Association and the other by the Center on Education Policy-offer differing viewpoints on the effectiveness of the program.
NCLB supplemental services-which provide tutoring, remediation and other interventions to low-income students in struggling schools-may be federally mandated, but it's the state education agencies that are charged with identifying, approving and monitoring the effectiveness of the organizations that provide them.
The EIA compilation of state, district and SES provider evaluations indicates that the federally funded program is well regarded, motivates students and has a positive impact on academic performance.
The CEP report, however, is cautious to highlight any aspect of successful SES implementation. It says that most states are struggling to monitor the effectiveness of SES programs and notes that 38 states in particular are "unable to monitor to a great extent the quality and effectiveness" of supplemental service providers.
"The bottom line is that states need more federal support to effectively carry out their duties in overseeing supplemental education service providers," says Jack Jennings, president and CEO of CEP. "Not every state is able to ensure that the entities providing the services are of high quality, and we don't know if these services are improving student achievement," he adds.
According to the CEP report, "between 47 and 49" states use criteria required by NCLB to review and approve applications from potential supplemental service providers. The criteria are designed to ensure that providers have a record of effectiveness, offer services consistent with district instructional programs, and meet a range of health and safety standards as well as civil rights laws.
There is wide variance in reapplication processes across states, however, and providers in some states have to reapply each year, whereas providers elsewhere are never required to formally reapply.
EIA Executive Director Steven Pines says, "While much more evaluation must take place, we believe the [EIA] report points to a program that is working well for those who access it, that is having a positive impact on students and their academic performance."
The entire EIA report contains more than 30 research and innovation summaries and is available at the EIA Web site, www.educationindustry.org. The CEP report is available at the CEP Web site, www.cep-dc.org.
Head Start Receives Face-Lift with New Legislation
In March the House Education and Labor Committee voted 42 to 1 to improve and reauthorize the Head Start early childhood development and education program.
The Improving Head Start Act of 2007 will improve Head Start's workforce quality by increasing funding for teacher and staff salaries and professional development and for hiring additional qualified staff ; strengthen school readiness by re-evaluating and updating current standards and assessments and suspending and terminating the flawed National Reporting System; boost coordination by improving cooperation between Head Start and state and local child care programs to increase full-day and full-year services; expand access to up to 10,000 more children; allow programs to convert portions of their grant to Early Head Start, which serves children under 3 years old; and increase accountability through a new application system that assesses program quality and improves the triennial review process.
Head Start has been the premiere early education program in this country for the last 40 years, says U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the committee chairman.
"The program remains a cornerstone in this country's efforts to combat poverty and provide all its citizens with the opportunity to thrive," Miller adds. "But we know that there are areas where the program could be working even better ... and [this] vote takes us a big step closer to enacting very helpful reforms."
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the Senate version of the Head Start reauthorization in February. Because both the House and Senate versions of the bills are bipartisan, legislative action will be taken on the new Head Start program in the coming months.
The House Education and Labor Committee Web site has more information on the legislation
ASCD 2007 Legislative Agenda Available Online
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development recently released its 2007 Legislative Agenda, a resource developed to set the course for ASCD's influence on Congress and domestic policymakers during the year.
The agenda identifies the association's top legislative priorities: innovative high school reform, closing the achievement gap, and school readiness and early development of the whole child.
The priorities illustrate what ASCD believes are the most important principles surrounding the future of U.S. education policy and the issues it feels are central to the success of every student.