Evaluation of Title I Accountability Systems and School Improvement Efforts: Findings from 2002-03

Liam Julian

U.S. Department of Education; Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
November 2005

This study is the second in a three-part series that examines the implementation of No Child Left Behind's Title I accountability provisions. It evaluates data from 2002-03 (NCLB's first full year) and finds that local governments and schools, despite overall progress in carrying out the law's accountability requirements, still have work to do. The study points out, for example, that although NCLB requires states and districts to provide support systems (i.e., mentors, curriculum assistance, data analysts, etc.) for schools tagged as needing improvement, almost two-thirds of principals in those schools received no such help. Complying with NCLB's supplemental services and school choice provisions also proved troublesome. Only about half the districts required to offer supplemental services did so, and only 7 percent of eligible students in districts offering services received them. On the brighter side, a majority of districts required to offer school choice (which allows youngsters in "needs improvement" schools to transfer) did so. Unfortunately, they did so in such ways that a paltry 1 percent of eligible students in those districts actually exercised their choice option. This report provides a plethora of information (some of it reported previously), but the authors warn that inferences from 2002-03 should be made with caution because many NCLB policies (notably the precise definitions of adequate yearly progress) were still in development at the time. This series will be more helpful when the third part (looking at school year 2003-04) is released, which will also indicate how NCLB's implementation has changed over time. Meanwhile, the 2002-03 study is available here.

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