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Press Release

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Department Of Education Applies For Federal Differentiated Accountability Pilot Program
~ Proposal provides increased flexibility in assisting Florida’s underperforming schools ~

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Education (DOE) has submitted its application for the differentiated accountability pilot program to the U.S. Department of Education. Announced in March by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, up to 10 states will be selected to create a tiered approach to address required interventions for Title I schools that do not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Florida’s proposal links state and federal accountability systems to identify schools that need focused preventive measures, those in need of more serious corrective action and those that require intensive intervention such as restructuring or closure.

“This proposal allows us to distinguish between schools that have missed a few criteria and those that have demonstrated a chronic history of low performance,” said Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. “Rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to interventions, this pilot would enable Florida to concentrate on specific areas of deficiency for schools close to meeting federal accountability requirements versus those that need dramatic interventions.”

Under the current system, Title I schools face increasing levels of corrective measures based on the number of consecutive years they fail to meet AYP goals. These actions remain the same for each school regardless of the percentage of AYP criteria they met or how well they performed on state accountability requirements. For example, an “A” school that has met 95 percent of AYP criteria but failed to achieve AYP for three consecutive years must implement the same intervention methods as a “D” school that has met only 50 percent of AYP criteria for the same amount of time.

Participation in the pilot program would allow Florida to reclassify its Title I schools that do not achieve AYP into three main improvement categories based on the school’s letter grade, percentage of AYP requirements met and the number of years it has not made AYP. The three types of improvement categories are:

Preventative: Schools in this category are in their first four years of not making AYP and must implement varying levels of focused preventative measures to correct specific issues. This category is subdivided into “A,” “B” and “C” schools who have met 80 percent or more of AYP criteria and schools who have met less than 80 percent of AYP criteria, including all “D” and “F” schools. It is anticipated that “A,” “B” and “C” schools that meet at least 80 percent of AYP criteria will require less stringent levels of assistance than the other schools in this category.

Corrective: Schools in this category have failed to achieve AYP for five or more years and require more serious corrective action in order to resolve persistent weaknesses. This category is subdivided into “A,” “B” and “C” schools who have met 80 percent or more of AYP criteria and schools who have met less than 80 percent of AYP criteria, including all “D” and “F” schools. It is anticipated that all schools in this category will require substantial, targeted assistance in order to successfully meet AYP requirements.

Intensive: These schools have failed to achieve AYP for five or more years in addition to demonstrating severe, long-standing reading and mathematics-based deficiencies. They require the most intensive intervention methods such as restructuring and closure.

While this reclassification does not change federal or state accountability requirements, it does allow a more flexible approach to implementing corrective actions for these schools.

“Using this method of classification and assistance helps to alleviate confusion between state and federal accountability requirements while allowing the two systems to work together in a complementary fashion,” added Commissioner Smith. “It more accurately depicts the status of these schools and provides the public with a clearer picture of their performance.”

Following a peer-review process, up to 10 states will be selected to participate in the pilot before the start of the 2008-09 school year. For more information about the differentiated accountability pilot program, visit http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/03/03182008.html. To view DOE’s proposal, visit http://www.fldoe.org/news/2008/2008-05-05/daproposal.pdf.