Thursday, January 29, 2009

NCLB restructuring: What are states doing?

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A growing number of schools are entering the restructuring phase under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) but few are leaving according to the Center on Education Policy’s A Call to Restructure Restructuring: Lessons from the No Child Left Behind Act in Five States. The report points out that the five restructuring options in NCLB provide little effectiveness in turning-around these schools.

National Findings

• More than 3,500 Title I schools nationwide were in the restructuring phase in the 2007–2008 school year which accounts for about 7 percent of all Title I schools.

• The number of schools in restructuring has increased almost 50 percent between the 2006–2007 and 2007–2008 school years. In 2006–2007 just 2,302 schools—4 percent of Title I schools—were in restructuring.

• The vast majority of schools in the restructuring phase are located in urban districts in the five states studied.

• Just under one and five schools in the implementing restructuring phase made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2006–2007.

• Some schools within the five states studies have been in the restructuring phase for up to four years.

State-Level Findings

• Of the five restructuring options contained within NCLB, 9 in 10 districts choose the ‘any-other’ option where districts can taken any major action that would produce fundamental change in the schools’ governance. What constitutes major action varies greatly from state to state and even from school to school.

• The type of supports states offer schools in restructuring vary from:

• Sponsoring extra professional development focused on school improvement (four states).

• Providing on-site technical assistance with more intense support and monitoring to those schools in restructuring for multiple years (three states).

• Providing professional development for principals (two states).

• Providing on-site leadership coaches or facilitators (two states).

• A greater percentage of schools in restructuring in Michigan and Georgia made AYP than the other three states. However, there is no clear reason why these schools were able to exit the restructuring phase.

District-Level Findings

• Some of the common strategies used in most of the 42 schools examined:

• Using data for instructional decision making.

• Providing tutoring to struggling students.

• Employing some type of instructional or leadership coach.

• Schools that chose the ‘replacing staff’ option sometimes had negative consequences such as not being able to find qualified replacements.

• Schools that missed AYP due to a specific subgroup typically still directed resources to all students instead of concentrating on those students that did not make AYP.

Cautions about the data

Findings from these five states may not necessarily represent what other states are doing in the restructuring phase.


Since only one in five schools in restructuring are making AYP it is apparent that NCLB needs to be revised to help these schools improve. The CEP makes the following recommendations to do just that:

The federal policy options for restructuring should encourage states to create state-specific strategies.

States need to step up efforts to monitor restructuring implementation.

Policies need to be put in place to address those schools that remain in restructuring for multiple years.

Unless certain criteria are met, the ‘staff replacement’ option should not be used and states should not recommend this option.

States and districts should still provide support to those schools exiting restructuring to ensure gains in student achievement are sustained.

By incorporating these recommendations and providing more resources to educators at the district and school levels more schools will start making AYP. School board members can do their part by ensuring the resources that are available are allocated to the schools and students that need them most, while at the same time ensuring all other students are given the resources they need to succeed as well.

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