SED seal 


For More Information Contact:

Jonathan Burman or Tom Dunn at (518) 474-1201





State Education Commissioner Richard Mills met with members of New York’s Congressional delegation in Washington D.C. Wednesday to urge key changes in the upcoming renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act. 


Commissioner Mills said, “I met with members of the New York delegation and found them united in their desire to maintain strong accountability in our schools while reforming NCLB.  I urged them to seek changes in NCLB that will reflect the lessons states have learned during the last five years and give us better flexibility and tools to raise student achievement.”


              Commissioner Mills met separately with Representatives Nita Lowey, Peter King, Tim Bishop, Steve Israel, Randy Kuhl, Carolyn McCarthy, and Maurice Hinchey, as well as with staff from representatives Charles Rangel and Yvette Clarke’s offices. With each of the representatives, Commissioner Mills urged the adoption of the following legislative reforms to the NCLB law:

A Single Accountability Designation which would permit states to use Title I criteria alone, including the assessments of student subgroups, to determine when a school or district is “in need of improvement.” 

Growth Models in testing which would give more precise data in determining Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and measure the progress of children as they grow.

Targeted Interventions and Differentiated Consequences would permit schools to direct remediation only to the subgroups of students who are falling short of achieving AYP rather than the entire student population of a school or district.

Assessments for Special Populations ? English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities which would permit states to develop valid, reliable and appropriate assessments for some English Language Learners and students with disabilities to improve achievement.

Highly Qualified Teachers: Continue to support state efforts to meet reasonable goals and provide incentives for states to pilot approaches to improve teacher effectiveness.

              Commissioner Mills concluded “In many ways New York State has been ahead of NCLB, but without these reforms this law could hold back the progressive educational agenda that the Regents, Governor and State Legislature have recently adopted.”


March 2007







The New York State Board of Regents (BOR) and the New York State Education Department (SED) have been strong supporters of the high expectations set by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). New York instituted standards-based reform 10 years before NCLB and support the law’s goals of closing the academic achievement gap and ensuring that all students have the education and skills necessary to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. However, to realize the law’s promise, NCLB must be changed to reflect the lessons states have learned during the last five years. In many instances, the law does not contain the right tools to meet its goals.


Recommendations from the Regents and Department for better aligning the law’s tools to its goals address seven areas for improvement: Accountability, Assessments, School Improvement, Highly Qualified Teachers, School Readiness, Funding, and Due Process.


Each area is important in ensuring the promise of NCLB, but five issues within those areas are especially critical. The five priorities are:







Issue briefs on the five priorities follow. The complete set of recommendations is included in the “Issues Matrix.”  


For additional information, please contact Cynthia Woodside, Federal Relations Liaison, at or 202-659-1947. 

 sed seal








NCLB makes states responsible for continuous student academic improvement, known as “adequate yearly progress” (AYP). State education departments must (1) design and secure U.S. Department of Education approval for school and school district accountability plans based on academic standards that states develop; (2) ensure that schools, in turn, are held responsible for their students’ academic performance; and (3) publicly report test results and test data analyses.


Schools are required to designate student subgroups and measure and report their academic progress. New York has designated these subgroups of students: all students; students with disabilities; economically disadvantaged; limited English proficient; white; American Indian/Alaskan; Asian; black; and Hispanic. A student may be classified as and their academic performance reported as part of more than one subgroup.  Schools that fail to make AYP for poor academic performance for any one or more subgroups in any one subject (English language arts, mathematics, and a third, state designated subject) are treated under NCLB as if the entire school failed AYP achievement benchmarks.


States are required to conduct and report publicly on several different measurements of accountability under NCLB and other federal programs. Currently, state education agencies (SEAs) are required to measure and designate:







Often, schools and districts end up on more than one list and are sanctioned for poor performance in different ways, depending on which list they are on. Under NCLB the sanctions apply to the entire school or district, even though only one student subgroup may be underperforming academically in only one subject.














It is not clear that multiple measurements add additional value. School districts do not have the resources to devote to unnecessary remediation. In New York there is a large overlap in schools and districts placed on the various lists:








There is no conclusive research on this issue. However, the results of compliance with current law appear to support our recommendations. This is a sample of current research:


Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice. Winter 2005

Educational Measurement is the journal of the National Council on Measurement in Education. This special issue is devoted to empirical research on current accountability systems, i.e. their structure, their relationship to policy, and their impact on school reform movements.


Standards for Educational Accountability Systems. National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing.  Robert Linn, et. al. Policy Brief 5. Winter 2002.

This policy brief highlights the components necessary for a fair accountability system as defined by measurement experts.



For additional information, contact:


Cynthia Woodside, Federal Legislative Liaison, 202-659-1947 or


sed seal








NCLB requires schools to show increases in the percentage of students reaching proficiency in reading and math toward the goal of having all students performing at their appropriate grade level by 2014. This is called making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).


States must use a “status model” to measure students’ academic progress. A status model measures progress by tracking improvement in the same grade over time. For example, a status model might compare the performance of students in fourth grade in a school in 2006-07 against the performance of a different group of students in fourth grade in 2005-06. In contrast, a “growth model” measures the scores of the same students over time. So, a growth model might measure the percentage of fourth grade students in a school in 2006-07 who are proficient compared to the percentage of those same students who were proficient when they were third graders in 2005-06. A growth model would allow schools to determine which individual students need remediation help and target assistance to those students.


Recognizing the potential of growth models for state accountability plans under NCLB, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) instituted a growth model pilot project in November 2005 under which it would approve up to 10 proposals. To date, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee have approved projects.













By using both a status model and a growth model, states can better determine which districts and schools need targeted interventions and which can serve as models for moving the most challenged student groups towards proficiency.







There is no conclusive research at this time on this issue. Current practice appears to support these recommendations. Some of the research cited here discusses “value- added” models.


Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice. Winter 2005

Educational Measurement is the journal of the National Council on Measurement in Education.


This special issue is devoted to empirical research on current accountability systems, i.e. their structure, their relationship to policy, and their impact on school reform movements. As the U.S. Department of Education did not approve growth accountability systems at the initial implementation of NCLB, this is the first cut of research on the impact of states’ status models and testing policies. It is important work as it highlights both strengths and weaknesses of the first set of accountability systems and informs thinking as policy-makers weigh movement to growth systems.


Value Added Models in Education: Theory and Applications. Edited by Robert Lissitz (2005).


This work contains 10 chapters authored by measurement professionals exploring the impact  and structure of value-added modeling. The work is highly technical and all articles contain research as well as statistical models that value-added research may employ. Of particular note are articles on the design and implementation of differing value-added models for the Dallas School District and Tennessee’s experience.


Longitudinal and Value Added Modeling of Student Performance. Edited by Robert Lissitz (2005).


This work contains 14 chapters that research and discuss the statistical methodologies that can be employed in value-added modeling for accountability systems. The book presents a variety of chapters regarding the theory and application of longitudinal (growth) modeling and value-added determinations of student achievement. The researchers who contributed to this work are recognized measurement experts from universities and testing houses.


Standards for Educational Accountability Systems. National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing.  Robert Linn et. al. Policy Brief 5. Winter 2002


This policy brief highlights the components necessary for a fair accountability system as defined by measurement experts.


Policymakers’ Guide to Growth Models for School Accountability: How Do Accountability Model Differ. Council of Chief State School Officers. October 2005


This policy guide clearly articulates the differences between status and growth models and explains the conditions necessary to evolve systems towards growth.


For additional information, contact:


Cynthia Woodside, Federal Legislative Liaison, 202-659-1947 or



sed seal









Under NCLB, states must use a school’s failure to make Adequate Yearly Progress (students’ continuous academic improvement) for two consecutive years as a determinant that the school is not on track to achieve universal proficiency by the 2014 school year, and thus should be labeled “in need of improvement”.  Schools may be designated in need of improvement if one or more subgroups of students (e.g. Hispanic, students with disabilities, limited English proficient) do not meet targets for improved academic performance or if less than 95 percent of students in a subgroup take an assessment (this is called the participation rate). The participation rate requirement keeps schools from selectively eliminating students (e.g. students with disabilities or limited English proficient) from taking an assessment.


States publicly identify schools in need of improvement. The schools are required to develop and submit a plan outlining a series of reforms designed to lead to improved academic performance. As the years pass, provisions of NCLB are triggered that initiate a series of mandated school choice options and school district interventions. During the first year of identification as in need of improvement (after a school’s second consecutive year of missing an AYP target), NCLB requires the district to offer students the option of transferring to another public school not identified as in need of improvement (this is called school choice). After the second year of a school’s being labeled in need of improvement (three consecutive years of failing to meet AYP), low income students must be offered free supplemental educational services (SES), such as tutoring, in addition to school choice.


NCLB assumes all students in a school designated as in need of improvement need remedial help even though only one subgroup of students may have fallen short of the AYP target. School districts are required to set aside up to 20 percent of their Title I program funding to implement school choice and SES for low-income students. They do not have to offer SES or school choice beyond what can be supported by that 20 percent and funds that are set-aside, but not used, can be returned to the general education program.


















There is no conclusive research available on this issue.









For additional information, contact:


Cynthia Woodside, Federal Legislative Liaison, 202-659-1947 or


sed seal


Special Populations Issue #1:






NCLB requires states to administer an English language arts (ELA) assessment to Limited English Proficient (LEP) and English language learner (ELL) students who as of January 3, 2007 have been enrolled in school in the United States, excluding Puerto Rico, for one year or more.




Revise assessment systems and accountability practices for Limited English Proficient and English Language Learner students:











U.S. census figures and statistics show that LEP/ELL students are the fastest growing subgroup of school age population in the country.  However, under NCLB the LEP/ELL population has made little or no academic progress on state assessments. LEP/ELL students have the highest dropout rate for high school students and the lowest graduation rate in the nation.


States need the flexibility to design and implement testing and accountability policies suited to the LEP/ELL populations they serve. For example, two issues that must be considered when developing a testing policy for LEP/ELL students are that students have not all been in the U.S. the same length of time, and when they enter the school system they arrive with different levels of proficiency in both their native language and English.


The goal must be to provide LEP/ELL students the programs and support they need to enable them to learn English while maintaining and improving their native language skills. They will be better equipped to participate in the global, multilingual community.





Distribution of 2006 LEP/ELL Students by Grade Level 











































Ungraded K-6



Ungraded 7-12






State Total:









How long does it take to learn English?


The most frequently asked question of English as a Second Language professionals by mainstream teachers, administrators, and even politicians concerns how long it should take English language learners to acquire English, by Judie Haynes


The most comprehensive work done in this field is the research conducted by Wayne Thomas & Virginia Collier. Thomas & Collier studied the language acquisition of 700,000 English language learners in a longitudinal study from 1982 to 1996. They wanted to find out how long it took students with no background in English to reach native speaker performance (50th percentile) on norm-referenced tests [norm-referenced tests measure student performance against the averaged performance of various comparison groups, such as students of the same grade, age, gender, racial/ethnic group or economic class]. In addition, they looked at variables such as socioeconomic status, first language, programs used to learn English, and number of years of primary language schooling. In their study, Thomas & Collier found that the most significant variable in how long it takes to learn English is the amount of formal schooling students have received in their first language.


-  Students who were between 8-11 years old and had 2-3 years of native language education took 5-7 years to test at grade level in English.

-  Students with little or no formal schooling who arrived before the age of eight took 7-10 years to reach grade level norms in English language literacy.

-  Students who were below grade level in native language literacy also took 7-10 years to reach the 50th percentile. Many of these students never reached grade level norms.


This data holds true regardless of the home language, country of origin, and socioeconomic status. (Thomas & Collier, 1997).


Early Childhood Education


Baker, C. (2000) A parent's and teacher's guide to bilingualism. Tonawonda, NY: Multilingual Matters, Inc. [NCELA Resource ID: BE020884]


This book provides readers with a list of the advantages of being bilingual, which include: wider communication (extended family, community, international links, employment); broader in-culturation, a deeper multiculturalism, and two "language worlds" of experience; greater tolerance and less racism; sensitivity to communication; raised self-esteem; secure identity; increased curriculum achievement, and employment benefits.

Barnett, S., Yarosz, D., Thomas, J., & Blanco, D. (n.d.).


Two-way and monolingual English immersion in preschool education: An experimental comparison. National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) New Jersey: New Brunswick.


This study focused on the implementation of bilingual program models, such as two-way immersion programs, and their effect on bilingual and English language acquisition in young children. The results of the study showed that children in two-way immersion made similar gains to those in monolingual English immersion programs.




Sireci, S. G., Li, S., & Scarpati, S. (2003). The Effects of Test Accommodations on Test Performance: A Review of the Literature. (Center for Educational Assessment Research Report number 485.) Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts.


This document provides an in-depth review of research pertaining to the use of accommodations for students with disabilities and English language learners. The authors note that most studies on accommodations for ELL students focus on the psychometric properties of accommodated tests while their study focuses on the effects of accommodations on test performance. The review identifies and describes 12 studies involving the test performance of ELL students; the results are somewhat inconclusive, although there is some general agreement pertaining to simplified English and the use of glossaries.


Albus, A., Bielinski, J., Thurlow, M., & Liu, K. (2001). The effect of a simplified English language dictionary on a reading test. (LEP Projects Report 1.) Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.


The study examined whether the use of monolingual simplified English dictionary as an accommodation on a reading test improved the performance of middle school Hmong ELL students as opposed to their regular education peers. Students were administered two reading passages with the dictionary available and two without the dictionary: 96% of students felt an English dictionary would help them.


Secondary English Language Learners


Advocates for Children of New York and the New York Immigration Coalition. (2002, June). Creating a formula for success: Why English language learner students are dropping out of school, and how to increase graduation rates. New York, NY: Author.


This report provides an overview of statistical data collected and maintained by the New York City Board of Education (NYCBOE) and New York State Education Department documenting the rise in school dropout rates among English language learners (ELLs) and their educational outcomes. In addition to city and state data, the report also incorporates students' voices about these topics. The report suggests the State Education Department and the NYCBOE failed to provide adequate support services and educational intervention services in accordance with established laws and policies to ensure the school success of ELLs. The report also includes recommendations to improve the education of ELLs and increase graduate rates and lower dropout rates.


Coady, M., Hamann, E. T., Harrington, M., Pacheco, M., Pho, S., & Yedlin, J. (2003). Claiming opportunities: A handbook for improving education for English language learners through comprehensive school reform. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University.


This document seeks to address a disconnect between comprehensive school reform (CSR) and English language learner (ELL) educational reform by presenting the existing research on both CSR and ELL educational reform and suggesting how the two educational improvement efforts can be integrated. It provides information, strategies, and tools for using the No Child Left Behind Act's Comprehensive School Reform program as an opportunity to make schools more responsive to and responsible for ELLs.


Resources About Newcomer Programs


Short, D. (1998). Secondary newcomer programs: Helping recent immigrants prepare for school success.


This digest reports on data collected through a study of secondary newcomer programs; it introduces the common factors and range of practices found in secondary newcomer programs across the United States, and describes how schools are meeting the needs of immigrant students, many of whom are placed below the expected grade level for their age. It discusses the needs of secondary immigrant ELLs who must learn English, take the required content courses, and catch up to their native-English-speaking peers before high school graduation.


Suarez-Orozco, M. (2001). Globalization, immigration, and education: The research agenda. Harvard Educational Review, 71, 345-365. [NCELA Resource ID: BE022309]


This article examines conceptual and empirical work on immigration and globalization, highlighting scholarly issues pertinent to the education of immigrant children. Most research indicates that some immigrant children will thrive in the era of globalization and are academically outperforming native-born children. However, many immigrant students attend inadequate schools and are not getting the education needed to navigate today's global economy. The paper recommends research on globalization and work, globalization and identities, and globalization and belonging.




For additional information, contact:


Cynthia Woodside, Federal Legislative Liaison, 202-659-1947 or



sed seal


Special Populations Issue #2:






Title I, Part A, Section 1111(b)(3) – Academic Assessments






Revise assessment systems and accountability practices for students with disabilities:












NCLB does not ensure appropriate assessment options for the range of instructional levels and abilities of students with disabilities. Subjecting students at specific chronological ages to grade-level assessments that are measuring skills well beyond their capabilities and that do not reflect content that they have actually been exposed to is not true participation and does not provide meaningful data to measure progress toward the standards.


Holding schools and school districts accountable for inappropriate achievement standards does not recognize the true value of a student’s educational program and does not serve to challenge schools to improve results for students with disabilities. As a result, students with disabilities are tested on what they have never been taught instead of being able to demonstrate what they have learned. 


USED’s final regulatory language regarding an alternate assessment option for an additional 2 percent of students (above the 1 percent of the most cognitively disabled) is not responsive to this issue, as it requires an assessment based on grade-level content standards and may not preclude the student from receiving a regular diploma.


Students in special education have a wide range of instructional levels, including those who learn at variable rates but can achieve a regular diploma, and those whose developmental disabilities result in a cognitive range that exceeds the alternate assessment levels—the 1 percent of the most cognitively disabled—but does not equal their nondisabled peers. This latter group constitutes students who require modified standards that may focus on career and technical programs leading to competitive employment rather than modified grade-level content that leads to a regular diploma.







For additional information, contact:


Cynthia Woodside, Federal Legislative Liaison, 202-659-1947 or




sed seal






NCLB, Title I, Part A, Section 1119 – Qualifications for Teachers and Paraprofessionals



NCLB Title I, Part A, Section 1111 – State Plans



Core Subjects. Core academic subjects include English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, history, civics and government, geography, economics, the arts and foreign language. Teachers of students with disabilities and students who are English language learners (ELLs) must be highly qualified if they teach core academic subjects.

Definition of Highly Qualified Teacher. Section 9101(23) requires highly qualified teachers to: (1) have a bachelor’s or higher degree; (2) be fully state certified, as defined by the state; and (3) demonstrate that they know the subject(s) they are teaching using one of the ways prescribed in section 9101(23). Teachers can demonstrate subject knowledge with college courses, state examinations or, in some cases, a “high objective uniform state standard of evaluation” (HOUSSE). Each state can create its own HOUSSE based on coherent and objective information about a teacher’s teaching experience, college courses, professional development and evidence of subject knowledge. The HOUSSE is an option only for veteran teachers, new special education teachers and new teachers in rural LEAs.

Accountability. Section 2141 of the NCLB establishes an accountability system for teacher qualifications that requires states to set predetermined targets, or Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) for LEAs and to intervene when an LEA fails to meet its AMOs and fails to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for student achievement.  States must impose sanctions on LEAs that do not meet AMOs and AYP, including collaborative planning and, at worst, restrictions on an LEA’s use of federal funds.















NCLB will be more effective at attaining its important student achievement and teacher quality goals if it sets feasible goals and provides more resources and flexibility for reaching them while continuing to hold states and school districts accountable. 




Teacher Shortages. New York may not have enough qualified teachers in all subject areas and geographic regions to reach NCLB’s teacher quality goal by the end of school year 2006-2007.




Importance of Innovation. P-16 partnerships are effective in addressing teacher shortages. For example, a federally funded partnership of the State Education Department, the New York City Department of Education and independent colleges and universities in the New York City area yielded hundreds of new teachers in shortage areas for New York City. It is not known yet whether this model can be extended to other regions without needing funds to do it. 

New Approaches to Accountability. New York has comprehensive policies that promote teacher quality from preparation through certification, first year mentoring, professional development and annual professional performance reviews. In addition, Governor Eliot Spitzer has called for new approaches, such as Contracts for Excellence, new tenure standards and a review of the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs.  Resources are needed to test and refine new approaches.



Why teacher quality resources should be targeted to schools and districts where they are needed most

Nationwide, low-income and minority students are more likely than other students to be in high-need schools with fewer qualified, in-field and experienced teachers. (Peske and Haycock, 2006). Teachers continue to leave these schools at higher rates than teachers at any other type of school (Marvel 2006). In New York, three large cities with high percentages of low-income and minority students are more likely than other schools to have out-of-field teachers and, in the case of New York City, inexperienced teachers (New York State Education Department, forthcoming). NCLB must permit states to target teacher quality funds to the districts and schools where they are needed most.

Why states need funds to develop comprehensive, longitudinal data systems

The Data Quality Campaign is an organization supported and endorsed by dozens of educational and other national organizations. Its 2006 survey found that only one state, Florida, had an educational data system that met its national standards.  Standards and survey results are at

Why funds are needed to promote innovative approaches to teacher preparation and recruitment

NCLB’s Transition-to-Teaching program has provided seed money in many states for dozens of projects that enable high-need districts recruit and retain highly qualified teachers through alternative teacher preparation and certification. Performance reports are at As alternative teacher preparation models gain the credibility and recognition they deserve, interest in them is increasing. For example, Governor Spitzer seeks to increase opportunities in them in New York. Seed money enables programs to start with enough strength so they can continue when external funding ends.


Marvel, J., Lyter, D.M., Peltola, P., Strizeh, G. A., and Morton, B.A. (2006). Teacher Attrition and Mobility: Results from the 2004-2005 Teacher Follow-Up Survey (NCES 2007-307). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.  Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Table 2, page 9.

New York State Education Department. Second Annual Report: Teacher Supply and Demand in 2005-2006. University of the State of New York: Albany, NY. Available upon request to

Peske, Heather and Haycock, Kati (2006). Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality. The Education Trust. (select Teacher Quality)



For additional information, contact:


Cynthia Woodside, Federal Legislative Liaison, 202-659-1947 or