Friday, May 31, 2013
This week South Carolina considered joining the line of states that are phasing out exit exams as a requirement to graduate from high school. South Carolina was an early adopter of exit exam testing, but this week the state House of Representatives passed a bill to end the state's exit exam requirement. States adopted exit exams to measure student learning by linking high school graduation to performance on basic proficiency exams. Now 25 states are considering severing the ties between exit exams and high school graduation, as more data indicates that the exams have had little correlation with student achievement and may also disadvantage students with special needs. The legislatures of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada recently passed measures to end the use of exit exams as a requirement for high school graduation, although some states plan to continue using the tests as learning assessments. Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post makes a case against high-stakes standardized testing in Why schools should stop using exit exams; USA Today reports on the exit exam trend in Exit exams may be on their way out. For more information, click the right graphic to see George Washington University's Sept. 2012 report, State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition.
The Fordham Urban Law Journal is soliciting articles for its upcoming special issue: New IDEAs: How to Adequately Educate Urban Schoolchildren with Disabilities. This issue of the Journal will address many of the shortfalls of the IDEA, as well as possible legal remedies or reforms that will help to support the IDEA’s goals. The journal is particularly interested in including articles that address, critique, or voice concerns over how the IDEA is currently applied in urban schools and articles that propose reforms or remedies so that urban school children will have an appropriate education, including: Funding (for example, disparities in federal, state, and local funding; reimbursement to parents for accommodations); Implementation of the Act (for example, hiring or assessing qualified special education teachers, overly bureaucratic procedures,
or other administrative difficulties); Educational Quality between Districts, Cities, and Socioeconomic Groups; Judicial Review (for example, the requirement that parents must appeal to an administrative body first before they are given a right to appeal to a civil court); Early Identification and Intervention
If you are interested in submitting an article for publication, please submit a one-page proposal as soon as possible. Articles will be selected on a rolling basis. The Fordham Urban Law Journal requires articles to be between 10,000 and 25,000 words, including text and footnotes.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
On May 28, 2013, the Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lobato v. State. Lobato involved a challenge to school inequities under Colorado's state constituion. The Supreme Court rejected plaintiffs' claim and overturned a lower court ruling in their favor. The court's opinion is unusual in that it held that the case was justiciable and that the state constitution imposed an adequacy standard on the state, but found that the state had met this standard. Most courts rejecting school finance claims have done so by refusing to reach the factual merits, finding that separation of powers concerns or the lack of a manageable adequacy standard precluded an analysis of the facts, or the courts have applied a deferential rational basis standard. Nothwithstanding extensive inequalities between school districts, the court focused on the fact that the state had a uniform funding formula in place.
Also curious is how fast the court reached its decision. The court heard arguments in early March and issued its 66 page opinion less than three months later. Given that the case involved a 5 week trial, the speed of its opinion is remarkable. I can't recall any court in recent years issuing an opinion that quickly. To the contrary, they often sit on them. Some may recall that South Carolina's Supreme Court sat on its school funding case for so long (nearly 3 years I think) that it ordered reargument. That argument was this past September and the court has yet to issue a decision.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Members of Congress who represent rural areas want to remedy Title I funding disparities for rural schools, the Hill congressional newspaper reports. Title I money disproportionately goes to urban and affluent suburban areas and are not not responsive to the needs of rural areas, lawmakers argue. The Hill cites a study reporting that "the federal government provides almost twice as much money per disadvantaged student in Philadelphia, Pa., (population: 1.5 million) as in Philadelphia, Miss., (population: 7,500)." Lawmakers from rural districts plan to make funding disparity an issue if Congress takes up the overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which has stalled since the Senate passed the bill in 2011. Read more at the Hill.