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Saturday, July 27, 2002



State of Hawaii


Education officials
ready transfer plan

They will implement the federal
No Child Left Behind Act


By Treena Shapiro
tshapiro@starbulletin.com

The state Department of Education will use student report cards to determine which students in grades 1 through 12 will be eligible to transfer from their home school this fall under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Under the new federal law, high-poverty schools that have not shown adequate progress toward meeting state academic standards for at least two consecutive years must offer students the option to transfer to better-performing schools.

The federal law has left state education officials scrambling to comply. Yesterday, DOE officials held a press conference to explain the changes.

Any student who received free or reduced lunch last year at a high-poverty (Title I) school that has failed to meet academic standards for at least two years in a row can apply to transfer to a school that is in compliance, they said. Transfers will be limited to the island of residence.

Incoming kindergartners will have to attend their home school for the first year, according to the DOE's plan.

The state had originally planned to use standardized test scores to determine which students would be given priority for services, but since the tests are only given in grades 3, 5, 8 and 10, many students would have been left out. So instead, they will use test scores for all students in grades 1-12.

Report cards are "something that is consistent throughout the state," said Kathy Kawaguchi, deputy superintendent in charge of No Child Left Behind compliance.

Report cards also have the advantage of showing a child's performance throughout an entire year, rather than snapshots of a student's performance at the time of the standardized tests, she said.

Because the state has only $6 million dedicated to No Child Left Behind implementation, students will be ranked to determine which children have priority to transfer.

"In order to exercise school choice ... you must be lowest-achieving and highest-poverty," Kawaguchi said.

In addition, the receiving school must have the room to accept transfer students and many schools are already filled to capacity, officials said.

The department has not yet worked out how it will provide transportation to students who transfer to schools outside their district. Options include bus service, reimbursing parents for mileage, or on Oahu, providing the student with a monthly city bus pass.

The tentative per-pupil allocations for No Child Left Behind services are $442 on Oahu, $645 in Maui County, $565 in Kauai county and $381 on the Big Island. However, on the Big Island, it would cost $9,000 to provide transportation for one child in Kau to attend a school in Hilo for seven months, Kawaguchi said.

Therefore, the state is trying to solve geographic obstacles by providing services online and making sure there is adequate computer and video-conferencing in the schools.

The list of schools that will be sanctioned will not be available until September, after the state has reviewed the Stanford Achievement Test scores, officials said.

In the 1999-2000 school year, 85 out of 279 state schools had failed to meet the state academic standards for at least two years.

"As many as 10 more may be added to the list," said DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen. However, some schools may have shown improvement and will be removed from the list, he said.



THINGS TO CONSIDER

Here are some things parents should consider before deciding whether or not to transfer their child to another school, according to the state Department of Education:

>> The option to transfer can only be used once. Students can move back to their home schools but will not be given priority to transfer to a second school.

>> Supplemental services, , such as tutoring, remain at the home school and will not follow any students who transfer.

>> Transportation costs are only covered by the state as long as the home school fails to show adequate yearly progress. Parents will have to pay for transportation expenses to a transfer school once the home school is in compliance.

>> Geographic exceptions have already been processed for this year. Next year, students eligible to transfer under No Child Left Behind will be given first priority, but this year many schools are already filled to capacity.

>> Schools may be on different calendars. Schools with a modified school year start earlier than schools on the traditional calendar, so a student may end up with less than 180 days in the school year.

>> A long drive to their child's daily commute may not be educationally sound.

TIMELINE FOR TRANSFERS

The school year will have started before the state is able to implement the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The state Department of Education's implementation timeline is as follows:

>> August: The DOE will receive the Student Achievement Tests results from the testing company.

>> Aug. 9: Specific implementation guidelines and parent-communication packets will be provided at a statewide meeting for Title I (high poverty) schools.

>> Aug. 30: Principals will determine the classroom capacity for accepting transfers.

>> Sept. 11: Each principal and school-complex area superintendent will receive an electronic statewide school- capacity report.

>> Sept. 11-30: Parents submit school choice/geographic exception applications to their home school principals.

>> Sept. 20: The state Title I office completes school year 2002-2003 Adequate Yearly Progress Determination for Title I.

>> Oct. 15: Principals of receiving schools will notify the parent and home school regarding applicant acceptance.

>> Oct. 28: First day for transfer students at the receiving schools.



The DOE lists the current Title 1 schools on the Web at doe.k12.hi.us/nclb/title1needofimprovement.htm.



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