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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

State use of targets and reporting (Sec. 300.602)

Comment: A few commenters recommended modifying Sec. 300.602(b)(1)(A) to require each LEA to work with an LEA monitoring stakeholder advisory committee that would advise the LEA on analyzing and reporting its performance on the targets in the State performance plan and on developing LEA plans. The commenters stated that, at a minimum, the advisory committee should include representatives of parents, disability advocacy groups, and other organizations.

Discussion: There is nothing in section 616 of the Act that requires LEAs to establish local stakeholder groups. Given the wide variation in the size of LEAs across the country and the wide variety of issues facing those LEAs, we do not believe that a Federal requirement is appropriate. States have the discretion to establish (or have their LEAs establish) local advisory groups to advise the LEAs, if they so choose.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended modifying Sec. 300.602 to require each State to include LEA corrective action plans (including indicators, targets, findings, and timelines for LEAs to correct any findings) in the State's report to the public on the performance of each LEA in the State on the targets in the State's performance plan.

Discussion: Section 300.602, consistent with section 616(b)(2)(C) of the Act, requires States to report annually on the performance of each LEA against targets in the State performance plan. We believe requiring States to include LEAs' corrective action plans in the States' public reports would create additional burden for States that is not required by the Act.

Changes: None.

Comment: Several commenters recommended revising Sec. 300.602 to specify that the State performance plan and the public report on LEAs' performance must be in language that is accessible to, and understandable by, all interested parties.

Discussion: The Department expects the information that a State reports in its annual performance reports and in the public reports on LEA performance will be made available in an understandable and uniform format across the State, including alternative formats upon request, and, to the extent practicable, in a language that parents understand. We do not believe it is necessary to add a specific requirement to the regulations because other Federal laws and policies already require that information to parents be available in alternative formats and to parents who are limited English proficient. Specifically, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires SEAs and LEAs to communicate to parents with limited English proficiency what is communicated to parents who are not limited English proficient. Under Title VI, SEAs and LEAs have flexibility in determining what mix of oral and written translation services may be necessary and reasonable for communicating this information. Similarly, Executive Order 13166 requires that recipients of Federal financial assistance take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access by individuals with limited English proficiency. For individuals with disabilities, title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that State and local governments, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that recipients of Federal financial assistance, ensure that their communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as their communications with others, and that appropriate auxiliary aids and services are available when necessary to ensure effective communication.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter suggested that the annual performance report include cross-references or links to the State report card and local report cards on the academic performance of children with disabilities under the ESEA.

Discussion: States may choose, but are not required, to include in the annual performance report the cross-references or links suggested by the commenter. States also may choose, but are not required, to use their ESEA report cards for reporting annually on the performance of LEAs on the indicators in the State performance plan. We do not believe it is appropriate to require States to cross-reference or link to ESEA report cards because it is overly burdensome and may create confusion because the indicators and timeframe for reporting may not be the same between the two reporting systems.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended requiring States to post their monitoring reports of LEAs on the States' Web site and make reports on monitoring activities for each LEA available to the public in written format and to the media.

Discussion: States have the discretion to decide how these reports are made available to the public. There is nothing in the Act that requires States to post monitoring reports of LEAs on the States' Web site or through other means. However, States may, if they wish, make such postings.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter suggested removing Sec. 300.602(b)(1)(ii), which requires a State to include in its report to the public on the performance of each LEA, the most recent performance data on each individual LEA and the date the data were obtained, if the State collects these data through monitoring or sampling.

Discussion: We believe that the data we are requiring the States to provide under Sec. 300.602(b)(1)(ii) are necessary for the proper implementation of the Act. Providing the most recent LEA performance data and the date the data were obtained will reduce data burden while maintaining the States' accountability for results, specifically related to indicator data that are more difficult to collect because those data are not collected through State-reported data collection systems under section 618 of the Act. However, the proposed regulations were not as clear as they should have been about the conditions under which States may use monitoring and sampling data. Therefore, we are revising Sec. 300.601(b) by adding a new provision that specifies that if the Secretary permits States to collect data on specific indicators through State monitoring or sampling, and a State chooses to collect data on those indicators through State monitoring or sampling, the State must collect data on those indicators on each LEA at least once during the period of the State performance plan. This will require that States collect data to assess each LEA's performance on indicators for which State monitoring or sampling data are permitted during the period of the State performance plan, so that the public will receive specific information about each LEA. We also are revising Sec. 300.602(b)(1)(ii) to make clear that the required information about specific LEAs would only have to be included in the reports to the public on LEA performance required by Sec. 300.602(b)(1)(i)(A), which should prevent this provision from being interpreted to require LEA-specific reporting to the Secretary.

Changes: We have renumbered Sec. 300.601(b)(2) as Sec. 300.601(b)(3) and added a new Sec. 300.601(b)(2) to specify that, if permitted by the Secretary, if a State collects data on an indicator through State monitoring or sampling, the State must collect data on the indicator at least once during the period of the State performance plan. We also have revised Sec. 300.602(b)(1)(ii) to provide a more specific reference to the public report required under Sec. 300.602(b)(1)(i)(A).

Comment: One commenter recommended that Sec. 300.602 specify that data on disproportionality be reported to the public, pursuant to sections 616(b)(2)(C) and 618 of the Act.

Discussion: The provisions in Sec. 300.602 already include the requirement suggested by the commenter. Section 300.602, consistent with section 616(b)(2)(C) of the Act, requires each State to use the targets established in its State performance plan and the monitoring priority areas described in Sec. 300.600(d), to analyze the performance of each LEA in the State, and to report annually to the public on such performance. As described in new Sec. 300.600(d), the monitoring priority areas on which the State will report include the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education and related services, to the extent the disproportionate representation is the result of inappropriate identification. Accordingly, States are required to report this information to the public. States must establish targets on each of the indicators set by the Secretary.

We also note that Sec. 300.642(a), consistent with section 618(b) of the Act, requires that data collected pursuant to section 618 of the Act be reported publicly. These data will include State-level data on the number and percentage of children with disabilities by race and ethnicity on a number of measures, including identification as children with disabilities, placement, graduation and drop-out, and discipline. Accordingly, we do not believe any further changes to the regulations are necessary.

Changes: None.