Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act
Among the most important features of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the priority it places on expanding options for parents whose children attend underperforming public schools. For example, for the first time ever, under NCLB, students attending public schools that do not make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for three consecutive years have the right to take advantage of free supplemental educational services (SES), such as private, after-school tutoring. NCLB requires that schools use 20 percent of its federal Title I funds to provide these services.
Government and media reports, however, have highlighted a widespread lack of parental awareness that these options exist, meaning most eligible students are not taking advantage of these unique benefits. In fact, these reports have been reaffirmed by congressional hearings that have shed light on the fact that, often, school districts do a poor job notifying parents that free tutoring may be an option for their children.
During this year’s NCLB reauthorization, Congress has the opportunity to reform policies to strengthen the overall rate of participation in these important services. Led by Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the Senior Republican on the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, House Republicans have crafted legislation – the Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act – to enhance parental awareness of free tutoring options under NCLB and expand student access to these important benefits.
Following are key reforms of this legislation:
Increasing Student Access and Participation in SES Programs. The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act would allow students attending public schools that do not make AYP for TWO years – rather the current three year wait – to take advantage of free tutoring services under NCLB. Under the law, students attending underperforming schools already have the opportunity to transfer to a higher-performing public school after two years. The bill also would remove the current incentive NOT to spend federal Title I funds set-aside for the free tutoring options. Under current law, any set–aside funds not used by a school district for SES programs or transportation revert back to the district to use for any other purpose. Such a practice creates – either purposely or inadvertently – barriers to student participation in SES programs. The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act simply requires that leftover funds roll-over into an SES program account to be used during the following school year(s). Finally, the measure would require districts to document parental awareness that free tutoring options exist for their children or, alternatively, have certain policies in place which have been found to lead to greater participation in SES programs.
Establishing Greater SES Program Accountability and Provider Effectiveness. The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act would expand the current state administrative cap under NCLB to allow additional funds to be used for the sole purpose of improving implementation and oversight of SES programs.
Expanding Resources for SES Programs. The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act would allow school districts to reserve up to one percent of its SES and public school choice transportation funding for activities directly related to the implementation of tutoring programs for eligible students.
Ensuring Students Have Fair Options in Selecting an SES Provider of Their Choice. The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act would make clear that parents have the right to choose from a wide variety of SES providers which offer distinctive instructional approaches, services in various locations, different modes of instruction, and other qualities to best meet the individual needs of their children. The bill also would ensure that programs delivered by private and non-profit providers compete on a level playing field with those districts that provide services. Finally, the measure would prevent school districts from enjoying the unfair advantage of overseeing an SES process in which they are “competing” as tutoring services providers.
Requiring Greater Transparency of Data Related to SES Programs. At the local level, the Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act would ensure greater transparency of information related to SES programs and transportation, by requiring that key data pertaining to these programs be included in the report cards currently provided to parents under NCLB. At the state and federal levels, the bill would expand the current SES reporting requirements to ensure that accurate and timely data regarding participating tutoring programs is being collected by the U.S. Department of Education.
Bolstering Research and Evaluation of SES Program Effectiveness at the National Level. The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act would strengthen the evaluation of SES programs by requiring the reporting of additional information such as: 1) The number of students who received supplemental educational services; 2) The criteria used by states to determine the quality of providers; 3) The types of services that are available and utilized; 4) The costs associated with implementing this free tutoring option; and 5) How receiving supplemental educational services impacts student achievement.
Improving SES Programs for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners. The Improving Supplemental Education by Ensuring Parental Awareness Act would make available additional funds to provide students with disabilities and English Language Learners throughout the country greater access to SES programs.