U recommendations to help state comply with federal law

Andrew Pritchard

The University’s Office of Educational Accountability issued recommendations Wednesday to help the state comply with the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act signed into law in January.

The law, also called the No Child Left Behind Act, requires states to submit plans to the federal government by 2003 describing their proposals for setting statewide education standards, assessing student progress and holding schools accountable for meeting certain minimum standards.

Kristin Peterson, an Office of Educational Accountability research associate who co-authored the report, said the law gives states freedom to define their own standards, but the federal government must approve their proposals.

Peterson said Minnesota will have to create new statewide exams to meet the act’s requirement that the state test all third- through eighth-graders annually in reading and math beginning in 2005.

“We have about half the tests already in place,” she said. The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, for example, are already federally approved for the third and fifth grades.

The act also requires statewide science tests by 2007.

“Rather than starting from scratch, it makes sense to work with what we already have in place,” Peterson said. “There are very few areas of No Child Left Behind where Minnesota is just standing there with nothing on its plate.”

The George W. Bush administration has said the act serves the president’s goals of accountable education, local flexibility, parent options and adoption of proven teaching methods.

In addition to its standards and testing provisions, the act requires districts’ and individual schools’ progress toward state standards be reported publicly in district and state “report cards.”

Minnesota has been granted a waiver until Jan. 31, 2004, to complete its assessment system, according to a December letter from Assistant Education Secretary Susan Neuman to Christine Jax, commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Children, Families and Learning.