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New Jersey Department of Education
Policy Statement

Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services
Under No Child Left Behind

Background

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) §1116 requires Title I schools in their first year of school improvement status [two consecutive years of not making adequate yearly progress (AYP)] to offer parents the option to transfer their child to another school in the district that is not in improvement status or designated as “persistently dangerous.”  New Jersey has a large number of districts that cannot offer choice due to having only one school per grade span or no high-performing schools.  Consequently, many districts offer no parental options at Year 2 schools.  In New Jersey, we believe this does not meet the intent of NCLB: we believe that parents should have an option to help their children who attend low-performing schools have an academic opportunity to help close the achievement gap.

The United States Department of Education’s (USDE) Supplemental Educational Services Non-Regulatory Guidance encourages districts that cannot offer choice to offer parents supplemental educational services (SES) as an alternative.  The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is instituting stricter standards (as permitted by federal law) and requiring Title I districts to offer SES in Year 2 schools if choice is not an option.
The following supports this requirement:

  • Title I funds (20 percent of the Title I total allocation) must be reserved for the purpose of school choice and SES. Therefore, funds are available to support the SES option in Year 2 schools. 

  • Parental options is one of the four key principles of NCLB.  Parents should have at least one NCLB option for their child who attends a Year 2 school.

  • Students who participate in SES have additional learning opportunities offered by state-approved providers, increasing their likelihood of increasing academic achievement.

  • More parents opt to use SES as opposed to choice. In the 2003-2004 school year, 19,243 students participated in SES and only 363 opted for school choice.

  • Discussions with districts indicate that when students receive additional tutoring provided through SES, it positively impacts student achievement.

  • SES may be used through the entire project period (September – August).

Policy Implementation

Districts that have a Year 2 school should offer school choice.  If choice is not feasible due to one of the following reasons, SES must be offered as an alternative option.

  • District is a single attendance area having one grade span per school.

  • There are no high-performing schools in the district with comparable grade spans.

To implement SES, the district must do the following:

  • Notify parents of income-eligible students, in a uniform format and in a language they can understand, about the availability of SES.  The district must notify parents of eligible students that they may select any provider on the state-approved provider list. The notice must describe the services, qualifications, and evidence of effectiveness for each provider as well as the procedures and timeline parents must follow in selecting a provider. Each provider in the district’s geographic location, plus on-line providers, must be identified for the parents. The Web link for the entire list should also be provided  (www.nj.gov/cgi-bin/education/title1/ssp.pl?string=r&maxhits=10000).

  • Help parents choose a provider, if requested.

  • Determine which students should receive services if not all students can be served.

  • Enter into an agreement with the selected provider.

  • Protect the privacy of students who receive SES.

This policy is effective immediately and must be implemented by districts in the 2005-2006 school year.

Resources

Information and resources about SES, along with the federal guidance are posted on the Title I SES Web site at  www.nj.gov/njded/title1/program/ss/.