"PUTTING PERFORMANCE FIRST: HEARING ON ED-FLEX AND ITíS ROLE IN IMPROVING STUDENT PERFORMANCE AND REDUCING BUREAUCRACY"

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,

YOUTH AND FAMILIES

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND

THE WORKFORCE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

 

HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY 25, 1999

 

Serial No. 106-6

 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce


Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families

"Putting Performance First: Hearing On Ed-Flex And Its Role In Improving Student Performance And Reducing Bureaucracy"

February 25, 1999

2175 Rayburn House Office Building

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.

 

STATEMENT OF DR. CARLOTTA JOYNER, DIRECTOR, EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT ISSUES, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C. *

STATEMENT OF MS. MADELEINE DRAEGER MANIGOLD, COORDINATOR, WAIVERS, OFFICE FOR THE EDUCATION OF SPECIAL POPULATIONS, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, AUSTIN, TEXAS *

STATEMENT OF MR. GREGG STUBBS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LICENSURE, OHIO

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, COLUMBUS, OHIO *

STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL E. WARD, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF INSTRUCTION, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA *

STATEMENT OF DR. LORRAINE A. COSTELLA, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, KENT COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CHESTERTOWN, MARYLAND *

APPENDIX A -- THE OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MIKE CASTLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF DELAWARE *

APPENDIX B -- THE WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE DR. CARLOTTA JOYNER, DIRECTOR, EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT ISSUES, U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C. *

APPENDIX C -- THE WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE MS. MADELEINE DRAEGER MANIGOLD, COORDINATOR, WAIVERS, OFFICE FOR THE EDUCATION OF SPECIAL POPULATIONS, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, AUSTIN, TEXAS *

APPENDIX D -- THE WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MR. GREGG STUBBS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LICENSURE, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, COLUMBUS, OHIO *

APPENDIX E -- THE WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL E. WARD, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA *

Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families

"Putting Performance First: Hearing On Ed-Flex And Its Role In Improving Student Performance And Reducing Bureaucracy"

February 25, 1999

2175 Rayburn House Office Building

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.

 

 

The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:30 a.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Michael N. Castle [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Castle, Petri, Roukema, Boehner, Souder, DeMint, Miller, Kildee, Roemer, Scott, McCarthy, Ford, Kucinich, and Wu.

Staff Present: Robert Borden, Professional Staff Member; Linda Castleman, Office Manager; Pam Davidson, Legislative Assistant; Jay Diskey, Communications Director; Victor Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; D'Arcy Philps, Professional Staff Member; Michael Reynard, Media Assistant; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member; Kevin Talley, Staff Director; Christie Wolfe, Professional Staff Member; Gail Weiss, Staff Director; Mark Zuckerman, General Counsel; Cedric R. Hendricks, Deputy Counsel; June Harris, Education Coordinator; Cheryl Johnson, Counsel/Education and Oversight; Alex Nock, Legislative Associate/Education; and Roxana Folescu, Staff Assistant/Education.

 

Chairman Castle. The subcommittee will come to order. This is the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families. I like to say that name because I am new to it and I have trouble remembering it when I am out telling people what subcommittee I am chairing because of the length of it. I would like to welcome everybody. Especially, the ranking member, Mr. Kildee. He probably knows as much about education as anybody in this Congress. He has a tremendous and caring attitude. I would like to thank the other members who are present.

We are going to have a number of hearings in this committee. Dale and I discussed that we hope to start these hearings on time and run them as efficiently as possible. We also hope to have good member attendance and derive the greatest amount of benefit from the witnesses and keep them to their schedules as well.

Having said that, I believe today, that we are going to have a quorum call or whatever they call it to get us over to the floor. Then Mr. Isakson, who I believe is going to be a member of this committee, is going to be sworn in. We are probably going to have to break for that. That may happen around 10:00. So maybe about 10 after or so we are going to have to recess. We will try to get as much done as we can before that.

As I indicated, this is the subcommittee's first hearing of the 106th Congress, and I thank all of you for coming today. We are here to talk about education flexibility, known as Ed-Flex, which I believe is a common sense program that all states should be able to participate in. We will hear from GAO, who will report on how Ed-Flex has been implemented in the states. In addition, we will also hear from the States of Texas and Ohio about their experiences with Ed-Flex as well as the state superintendent from North Carolina and the local school superintendent from Maryland.

On Tuesday, Mr. Roemer, who is here, and I introduced H. R. 800, the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999. Our bill would lift the 12-state cap off this program and allow all 50 states to apply. It also adds more accountability language. Some members here like Mr. Miller, are concerned about accountability to ensure that states measure the performance of students affected by the program.

States and local school districts have been telling us for some time that they need more flexibility. Right now there are scores of K-12 federal education programs which require thousands of administrators in state education agencies across the country. Paperwork requirements and regulations often put state and local school districts in a position of having to put compliance before performance.

Federal programs by nature tend to be one-size-fits-all. It is possible to design one program that will address the needs of every school district in the country. While some struggle with getting their children ready to read by third grade, others struggle to find quality teachers to staff their schools. Others may have small classes but may need help funding special education.

Moreover, we have very little evidence that taxpayers, parents, and students are getting their money's worth for these Federal programs in the first place. This lack of evidence of effectiveness only strengthens the argument for giving states the flexibility to grant waivers. The burden of proof should rest on those who say this flexibility should not be maintained and expanded. Restricting flexibility is an argument for maintaining the status quo, and we don't have much evidence that the status quo helps children enough.

Under current law Ed-Flex allows the Secretary of Education to delegate to states the authority to waive certain federal regulations and paperwork that impede innovative and effective reform in exchange for increased accountability. It helps them to tailor one-size-fits-all programs to more closely meet their unique needs and priorities.

The philosophy behind Ed-Flex is a little bit like that of charter schools, which this committee has supported in the past. Free schools from certain requirements and regulations in exchange for increased accountability. While Ed-Flex doesn't go nearly as far, it is a similar concept.

What we are talking about, for example, is giving locals some freedom when they decide where to spend their federal professional development funds. If a district is facing a reading crisis because their teachers have not received training in effective reading instruction, they should be able to request a waiver to focus their funds on reading instruction for a few years.

If the school wants to use Title I dollars to implement an effective research base program such as Success for All to raise the achievement levels of disadvantaged children, they should have the freedom to request a waiver to do so.

The administration says we shouldn't pass this bill now, although they favor the bill, that we should wait until we reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which means states may have to wait until 2001 for Ed-Flex. However, if states are willing to show that student performance has improved after five years of having Ed-Flex, why not pass legislation now so that all states could have the freedom to implement effective reform plans.

As President Clinton said in his address to the governors on Monday, we don't have the luxury of waiting and continuing to subsidize failure. The President also said that it is time for the federal government to invest in those things which governors and school districts and principals and teachers and students and parents have proved are critical for raising student achievement. Ed-Flex is the means by which states can implement these effective practices now.

While Ed-Flex is an important first step giving states the flexibility they need, I should point out that it is a relatively limited program. It only applies to 11 programs and they cannot be combined with one another. States must continue to meet the underlying purposes of the programs. It does not allow special education regulations to be waived either. It gives them freedom within the current framework of federal programs.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today. I believe they will shed some important light on how this program really works and how it benefits children. And now I will yield to our ranking member, Mr. Kildee, for his opening statement.

See Appendix A for the Opening Statement of the Honorable Mike Castle

 

 

Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am very pleased today to join with you in welcoming the witnesses to what is the first hearing of the Early Childhood, Youth and Families Subcommittee in the 106th Congress. I am sure this is going to be the beginning of many productive hearings that our subcommittee will have in our efforts to improve elementary and secondary education.

I am personally pleased, Mr. Chairman, that you are the Chairman of this subcommittee. As a matter of fact, in my 23 years in Congress, I believe this is the first time I have served with a chairman who is a former governor. You bring that perspective to this committee.

As the chairman has mentioned, today's hearing is going to focus on Ed-Flex and the case for expanding the existing demonstration program, presently in 12 states, including my State of Michigan, to all states as the first education bill this committee considers in this Congress.

As the chairman knows, I would have preferred consideration of expanding Ed-Flex within our efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this Congress. Both our policy objectives for the programs contained in this Act and other existing waiver authorities should be considered together so that we can produce a truly coordinated and meaningful reauthorization of ESEA.

Fully realizing that the expansion of Ed-Flex is on a fast track, I believe we need to examine Ed-Flex to gauge the level of accountability presently in place and what steps we can do to improve the nexus between accountability and flexibility aimed at increasing student achievement. Also we need to ensure that in any expansion of Ed-Flex that we require monitoring and reporting on the effect of waivers so we can get a better picture how Ed-Flex is enabling children to reach high standards.

I am looking forward to learning the perspectives of the witnesses today and utilizing their knowledge as we go forward with our work in Ed-Flex. Governor, we agree, you and I agree, that flexibility must go together with increased accountability. I look forward to the witnesses' testimony this morning.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Kildee. We appreciate your opening statement. By agreement in these hearings because we want to move the witnesses as quickly as possible, we are going to limit our opening statements to the chairman and the ranking member. Now, we are ready for our witnesses who we would ask them to assume their chairs if they would, please. I am going to go through the introductions now of all of you so we can go from one to the other as we get to speaking.

I believe Mr. Boehner is going to introduce Mr. Stubbs and Mr. Johnson is going to introduce Ms. Manigold. He is not here right now so we may have to hold up your introduction for a couple of minutes until Sam (Johnson) can get here.

We are going to start today with Dr. Carlotta Joyner, who is the Director of Education and Employment Issues of the General Accounting Office, often referred to as GAO here in Washington. Dr. Joyner is, as I said, the Director of Education and Employment Issues at GAO, where she manages the design implementation and reporting of studies conducted on the education provided in early childhood and elementary and secondary education programs. She is the author of a report on this particular program that I have had the pleasure of reading, and she will testify on the findings of the GAO report, Ed-Flex States Vary in Implementation of Waiver Process, which was released in November 1998.

We will skip over Ms. Manigold and we will turn to Mr. Boehner for his introduction of Mr. Stubbs.

 

Mr. Boehner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to introduce to the committee another great Ohioian, Gregg Stubbs, who is the Assistant Director in the Division of Professional Development and Licensure at the Ohio Department of Education. Gregg has both program and fiscal responsibilities for numerous federal programs, including Goals 2000, Title II, the Eisenhower Professional Development, Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration, and Consolidated Local Planning, which includes in Ohio Titles I, II, IV, and VI of the federal programs.

Gregg wrote the application for Ohio to become an Ed-Flex state and designed the approval process that was originally in place. Gregg is currently responsible for a team of individuals who are putting together the program and accountability pieces of the continuous improvement planning which has been called for in the states new performance accountability system. Gregg, we are glad that you are here with us today.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Boehner. I know you said another great Ohioian. I wonder who the other great Ohioians in the room are.

We have next Dr. Michael E. Ward, who is the Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina Department of Instruction in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Ward is a state superintendent of public schools in North Carolina and is a strong advocate for students and teachers promoting high expectations and excellent learning opportunities for students and higher professional standards and better rewards for entering the teaching profession. Laudable goals all of them. We appreciate your being here.

Our final witness today in a few minutes will be Dr. Lorraine A. Costella, who is the Superintendent of Schools, Kent County Public Schools in Chestertown, Maryland. Dr. Costella is a superintendent of schools for Kent County Public Schools in eastern Maryland. As a former teacher and principal, she has extensive experience in curriculum and instruction for elementary students. Her testimony will focus upon how Ed-Flex has been used to obtain a waiver for an elementary school schoolwide project under Title I and how as a result test scores have improved. We welcome you here today as well, Dr. Costella.

With that, Dr. Joyner, we will turn to you for your statement.

 

 

STATEMENT OF DR. CARLOTTA JOYNER, DIRECTOR, EDUCATION AND

EMPLOYMENT ISSUES, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

Ms. Joyner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee. I am very pleased to be here today to discuss the Education Flexibility Partnership Demonstration Program, known as Ed-Flex, which authorizes 12 states to grant waivers; that is, temporary exemptions, from certain federal requirements to their local school districts. I have a chart to my right that identifies those states that are currently participating in Ed-Flex. I am not sure how well you can see it. Just to remind you, they are Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont.

Every federal education program has requirements with which states, local school districts or both must comply in implementing the program. In earlier work on the range of federal requirements that affect school districts, we found that some programs, such as the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program, impose relatively few requirements on state and local officials while other programs are more restrictive. The Department of Education can waive certain federal requirements under specific programs. Under Ed-Flex, the Department delegates some of its authority to the Ed-Flex States. Thus, in both Ed-Flex and non-Ed-Flex states, districts and schools may be granted an exemption from certain federal requirements for a given period of time. In Ed-Flex states, the district or school applies to the state for a waiver and the state decides whether or not to grant it. In non-Ed-Flex states, similar waivers are available but the district must apply to the federal Department of Education for a decision.

My testimony today focuses on two main topics: First, the scope and limitations of the current Ed-Flex waiver authority and opportunities for expansion to more states under current eligible requirements. In addition, I will discuss the challenges posed for the Ed-Flex program of balancing the two objectives, of achieving federal program oversight while offering flexibility to stay in local districts.

My statement, as you have noted, is based primarily on information in our recent report, and I do have a longer written statement as well.

In summary, states participating have generally found Ed-Flex to be a useful tool for achieving flexibility and promoting educational reform efforts, even though because of the limited scope of the waiver authority, it did not address many of their key concerns about implementing Federal requirements. Ed-Flex allows waivers from certain specific requirements within six major educational programs, the largest being Title I of the ESEA, but as you have noted, not for many other federal education and noneducation requirements, such as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the school breakfast and lunch programs, and environmental requirements.

Most of the Ed-Flex waivers granted have centered on Title I, most often allowing schools to operate Title I as a schoolwide program. The Ed-Flex waiver authority does not, however, address the key concerns that district officials cited to us in another larger study. These three are, first, a need for accurate, timely and sufficiently detailed information on federal requirements; second, the limited funds available to administer federal programs and to comply with requirements; and, third, the logistical and management challenges presented by certain requirements such as those that specify specific timelines or require specialized personnel.

Regarding opportunities for expansion, the second issue, the Ed-Flex program cannot be expanded to a significant number of additional states under the current eligible criteria. In order for substantially more states to participate, the current requirement that states have an approved plan for education reform under Goals 2000 would need to be modified and states would need to make major changes in their ability to waive state imposed education requirements.

As you can see also from the chart, 10 states are ineligible. Those are noted in green because they do not have an approved Goals 2000 education reform plan. Of all the other states only two, Utah and Washington, would be currently eligible if the 12-state limit were changed.

Ed-Flex creates challenges in holding districts accountable for the results of their waivers and also for holding the states and districts and the Department accountable for what is accomplished with federal programs. Some states have specific goals and clear and measurable objectives. Others do not. The Education Department has exercised fairly limited oversight over the programs, yet at the same time making more specificity or more oversight would pose some challenges.

 

Chairman Castle. Dr. Joyner, you all may be distracted by the lights in front of you. I used to be a witness out there, too. For today, we are not going to pay too much attention to that. That is four minutes, and then yellow, I think, and five minutes is the red. We do want to get your statements in as fully as we can, sort of be cognizant of it. We are not going to bang gavels and cut you off unless you go on too long. You may proceed.

 

Ms. Joyner. Actually I started talking faster so I could finish my overview, and I would be glad to answer any questions you would like to ask me later.

See Appendix B for the Written Statement of Dr. Joyner

 

Chairman Castle. Okay. We frightened you into it. I didn't mean to do that either. I am going to introduce at this point Ms. Manigold, who is the Coordinator of Waivers for the Office for the Education of Special Populations in the Texas Education Agency in Austin, Texas. Ms. Manigold serves as the coordinator for the waivers unit in the Office for the Education of Special Populations at the Texas Education Agency. Her responsibilities include the administration of the Education Flexibility Partnership Demonstration Program. She will testify on how Ed-Flex waivers have worked in the State of Texas, including the number and type of waivers the state has granted for the local school districts.

I might say as an aside that Texas is often cited with Ohio, as a matter of fact, and actually Maryland to some degree, as three of the states that have been very prominent in really using the Ed-Flex provisions.

 

 

STATEMENT OF MS. MADELEINE DRAEGER MANIGOLD, COORDINATOR, WAIVERS, OFFICE FOR THE EDUCATION OF SPECIAL POPULATIONS, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, AUSTIN, TEXAS

 

Ms. Manigold. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am Madeleine Manigold and I am from the Texas Education Agency and we are very pleased to be here today to present to you how Texas has implemented Ed-Flex. In my testimony today, I would like to cover four main points. They are explained in greater detail in the written testimony that I have submitted for the record.

First point, Texas has implemented Ed-Flex as part of its comprehensive reform strategy. Second point, this has enabled us to provide greater flexibility in exchange for increased accountability.

Third, in Texas Ed-Flex is working. Student performance has gone up faster in schoolwide programs operating under waivers in the state as a whole for African-American students, for Hispanic students, and for economically disadvantaged children.

Finally, given this success, we urge you to continue Ed-Flex. Let me briefly elaborate on a few of those points.

First, as we implemented Ed-Flex, it has been part of our comprehensive reform strategy. That includes comprehensive planning at the campus and district level by the teachers, the administrators, the parents, community members.

Secondly, we have very rigorous statements or standards of what students should know and be able to do.

Third, our assessment is tied specifically to those standards.

Fourth, we have a series of academic excellence indicators by which we use to evaluate the performance of campuses and districts.

Fifth, we issue annual ratings of that performance.

Six, we have a campus report card that goes home to parents to tell them how their school is doing.

Seventh, we have a very vigorous state waiver system and, finally, we use Ed-Flex to give that same flexibility over covered federal programs.

To date in the three years that Texas has been part of Ed-Flex, we have given over 4,200 Ed-Flex waivers. Most of those were administrative waivers designed to cut paperwork. But we have given over 400 programmatic waivers, the majority of which have enabled campuses to implement schoolwide programs. Because we have implemented Ed-Flex within this context of our overall reform we have been able to increase flexibility.

The process of education in Texas is in local hands where it should be. What we have done at the state level is to set measurable annual gain targets for programmatic waivers and these targets of gain are not only for all students but also for African-American, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged children. We monitor annual performance of Ed-Flex, and then we ask the local districts to develop plans and revise their plans if they are not meeting these goals.

Third, Ed-Flex is working at the campuses that are operating schoolwide programs under a waiver. The performance gap between the highest performing group and the lowest performing group is narrowing with all students going up, but the groups that are targeted under the federal programs are making the most gains in schoolwide programs.

I would be happy to answer any questions that you have after. I do urge you to continue Ed-Flex. Thank you.

See Appendix C for the Written Statement of Ms. Manigold

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Ms. Manigold. We appreciate that. Mr. Stubbs, you are next, sir.

 

 

STATEMENT OF MR. GREGG STUBBS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LICENSURE, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, COLUMBUS, OHIO

 

Mr. Stubbs. On behalf of our interim state superintendent, Dr. James Van Keuren, I would like to thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to discuss Ohio's experiences with Ed-Flex and also our future plans, and more or less the emphasis of my testimony is going to be on our future plans.

In September of 1995 we became one of the first six states to receive the Ed-Flex authority, and our initial plans were to couple that with our state waiver rule, rule regulations that allows us to waive the state to provide a planning environment in school districts that would encourage creativity and innovation.

In implementing the Ed-Flex program in the beginning, and now, we request that all waivers, all districts that request a waiver indicate what rule or regulation that they need to waive and how it is impeding the implementation of a continuous improvement plan at the district level. So coupled with the request, the district has to indicate how their plans are impeded by that rule or regulation.

We also request from the districts the means by which they are going to evaluate the impact of those plans. We use the impact reports that they submit to us to monitor the performance of the districts and then use that for future continuation for a district's waiver.

As I said, we coupled Ed-Flex with our state waiver authority and although we haven't received the number of requests for Ed-Flex for waivers using federal programs, we have received significant requests for state rules and regulations. The majority of those center around the length of the school year and the length of the school day minimum requirements to allow schools to block time, so to speak, to build up days for the teachers to do planning or professional development activities within their continuous improvement plans.

As far as the federal rules and regulations go using Ed-Flex, in the beginning we had two main requests and that was, I believe we have talked mostly about those, Title I schoolwide and that is reducing the minimum poverty rate to a lower level to allow more schools to participate in schoolwide program. And the second is within the Title II Eisenhower program that allows districts to spend less than the required percentage on math and science if they can provide evidence that they have met the needs of students in math and science and they have needs in other curricula areas, especially pertaining to the state efficiency tests.

In doing that, we implemented two statewide waivers, one for each of those programs, and although districts do not have to request permission because of that statewide waiver, they do have to report to us that they are participating and then the results that they have achieved.

In 1998, 72 school districts out of 611 in the State of Ohio were participating in the Eisenhower Professional Development statewide waiver and 186 school buildings were participating in the Title I waiver, allowing them to participate with less than 50 percent poverty rate. We set a bottom level of 35 percent, so we had 186 buildings between 35 and 49 percent who participated in schoolwide planning.

We don't believe currently that districts in Ohio have taken advantage of Ed-Flex to the extent that we would like. Mainly for that reason, we believe it is because they have not had a context in which to determine which rules and regulations are impeding their progress.

The current federal application programs on an individual basis in Ohio are more of an application process than a planning tool, but now with the state's performance accountability system requiring well over 90 percent of the districts in the state to implement or develop and implement three-year continuous improvement plans, they are going to have a better means to determine which rules and regulations impede the progress of those plans.

We have provided support for the continuous improvement planning process through three areas, one being fiscal resources through Goals 2000, technical assistance at the state and regional level, and the third being the offer of the educational flexibility program and also the state waiver rule. That really does open the ideas of planning to not be limited.

We have begun to phase in a process in which all state and federal program dollars, both competitive and entitlement, will be accessed through one submission of a continuous improvement plan as opposed to individual programmatic applications, and we started that with a consolidated local plan in which Title I, Title II, Title IV and Title VI can be accessed through one application which is based upon their continuous improvement plan. Ed-Flex is extremely important to districts as they begin to implement those plans.

I would conclude my statement by simply saying that in Ohio we believe we have positioned ourselves now to take full advantage of the opportunities that Ed-Flex provides and many districts have taken advantage currently.

See Appendix D for the Written Statement of Mr. Stubbs

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Stubbs. We appreciate your testimony and look forward to having the question and answer session with you.

Dr. Ward.

 

 

STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL E. WARD, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF INSTRUCTION, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA

 

 

Mr. Ward. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I appreciate this opportunity to present North Carolina's position on Ed-Flex. You have a copy of my complete statement, so I will use just these few minutes to summarize.

A report recently released by Education Week recognized North Carolina as one of two states coming the closest to having all the components of a complete accountability system. North Carolina and Texas were also ranked as the two states posting the largest average gains in student test scores on the National Assessments of Education Progress between 1990 and 1996. The National Education Goals Panel issued a report authored by the Rand Corporation that examined the notable progress of both North Carolina and Texas, stating that the most plausible explanation for test score gains was an organizational environment and incentive structure that is based on a standards-based reform, which includes an aligned system of standards, curriculum and assessments, holding schools accountable for improvement by all students, and critical support from business.

North Carolina has strong support for and a focus on standards-based reform. The state's reform context is driven by two recent pieces of legislation, the School-Based Management and Accountability Program of 1995, we refer to that program as the ABCs of public education, and the Excellent Schools Act of 1997, which focuses upon teaching standards and increased incentives to enter the teaching profession.

Our state reforms have been aided tremendously by federal programs, especially Title I, Title VI, and Goals 2000. Title I serves over 250,000 students and over 1,000 schools in North Carolina. Over the last three years, North Carolina has been able to reduce significantly the achievement gap between Title I schoolwide schools and the performance of all other schools similar to that experienced in Texas.

Let me turn to Title VI. Local education agencies and schools use Title VI funds to implement innovative programs under eight established innovative assistant program areas. In North Carolina nearly 20 percent of funds are used for programs directed at disadvantaged students and dropout prevention. Another 30 percent are used to provide library services, materials, computer hardware, software or other curriculum materials.

Turning to Goals 2000, the Educate America Act has supported state level efforts aimed at creating a strategic plan for education which provides a framework for collaboration and which aligns the efforts of major partners and stakeholders in education, and this is an aside. I want to clarify North Carolina's status as a state that does have an approved state education reform plan under Goals 2000. I am not sure I understand the chart that is to your left and my right, and I look forward to clarifying that with GAO afterwards.

Goals 2000 has also played an integral part in leveraging and facilitating systemic reform in schools by funding various local initiatives that support the states priorities for high student achievement, quality professionals, effective and efficient operations, and safe and orderly schools. These initiatives would not have been possible without this source of funding.

Federal programs have been vital in moving our reform agenda and establishing our accountability system. With the addition of Ed-Flex we can realize even greater benefits. North Carolina has devoted three years to the implementation of the ABCs of public education. The key to successful student achievement gains through the ABCs is possible through aligning federal, state, and local funding with the goals of our comprehensive reform and accountability system.

The state Board of Education is now proceeding to the next logical step of the accountability system, the implementation of strong student promotion standards. Flexibility to grant waivers of certain federal statutory and regulatory requirements will allow the state to further support local school systems in their efforts to improve student achievement. Overall, granting the flexibility to waive statutory or regulatory requirements would benefit North Carolina in the following ways: The state will be better able to coordinate all of the state, local and federal resources available to local school systems in schools as outlined under the effective and efficient operations strategic priority. Flexibility will focus federal funds more on student achievement and less on process. Flexibility will ensure that all funds are aligned and in place to assist with implementation of quality educational and support programs without creating an erosion of services to disadvantaged students or jeopardizing civil rights, protections. The state will no longer serve as middleman in the waiver approval process but rather as the final authority.

In North Carolina, we strongly believe that the flexibility should only be available to states that have a strong rigorous accountability system, strong content and performance standards. Each state should have a comprehensive reform program in place to ensure that there is a clear focus and direction for improving the achievement of all students.

In concluding, I would like to say that North Carolina supports the extension of the currently authorized Ed-Flex provisions now available in 12 states to all 50 states. However, if the decision is made to fast track this legislation, we would suggest that the Congress also make sure that the authority allowing states to implement statewide waivers and to waive regulations for LEAs be embedded in each state's comprehensive reform plan for all students not only those served by Title I ESEA.

Thank you for this opportunity to address the committee. I look forward to the questions later.

See Appendix E for the Written Statement of Dr. Ward

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Dr. Ward. We appreciate your testimony as well.

Let me try to explain to you, why you hear all of these bells. The vote has commenced. It is probably two or three minutes into it and we have 17 minutes in which to get over and cast a vote on the Journal and, as I indicated, they are going to swear in Mr. Isakson and we should probably allow time for that as well. So what we will do is hear from Dr. Costella and then when that is concluded we will then recess and come back for the questioning of the witnesses. Hopefully you can all stay. It will probably be a half-hour break or so to get through all the business we have to do on the floor and then we will come back as soon as we possibly can after that is done.

Dr. Costella.

 

STATEMENT OF DR. LORRAINE A. COSTELLA, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, KENT COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CHESTERTOWN, MARYLAND

 

Ms. Costella. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my testimony is going to discuss Ed-Flex waivers from the perspective of a local superintendent where all this planning from the federal and state levels becomes real.

I am the superintendent of schools in a small rural district on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It is the smallest district in the state with only eight schools, one high school, three middle schools and four elementary schools. Although the information books list us as a wealthy state, most of the wealth is held by a very small percentage of the people. The level of student poverty is above the state average with 38 percent of my children on free or reduced meals, a percentage that is increased by 10 percentage points in the past four years.

Kent County is one of the few areas in Maryland where the unemployment rate has not decreased and economic development is not strong. The lack of material resources is compounded by the fact that we are a very isolated community with no public transportation and little access to the range of services on what we call the Western Shore. I give you this description to emphasize the contrast between my community and the circumstances in some of the very large wealthy school systems that surround the Beltway and with which you may be more familiar. Although those systems and mine have similar goals in terms of student achievement, there are vast differences in the way we go about meeting those goals. Those similarities and differences exist even within my small school district and are the very basis of my support for the need for educational flexibility.

Title I plays a major role in the programming in Kent county. Rock Hall Elementary School was the first of my schools to reach the magic 50 percent of students receiving free and reduced meals, the number that permitted the school to become a schoolwide Title I program. Rock Hill Elementary School is a school in a tiny fishing village on the Chesapeake Bay. Becoming a schoolwide program meant that they could provide services for all the children in that school, which they did through a focus on small class size and reading. This school now has 60 percent of those students on free and reduced meals. But contrary to most expectations and most research, on the state assessments they rank third highest in the State of Maryland. Certainly the schoolwide program was not the only thing that influenced that high level of achievement but it helped.

Rock Hall Elementary School was so successful and enthusiastic about their schoolwide program that we applied to the Maryland State Department of Education for an Ed-Flex waiver to permit Garnett Elementary School to become a schoolwide program. They were only at less than 45 percent free and reduced meals level when we applied. Now they are at 55 percent. That growth is important to note.

That school's focus was on early identification and special programs to meet the needs of their minority children. They developed an extended day program that included kindergartners. Their results on rigorous statewide assessments show that their African-American students are quickly approaching the high level achievement of Caucasian students. In fact, their third grade African-American males met the state standard and achieved a higher level in mathematics than the Caucasian students on those state assessments, again going against national and statewide research.

Garnett's program was very different from Rock Hill Elementary School, but the education flexibility waiver permitted the school improvement teams to develop a program that met their individual needs and they are also getting spectacular results.

Another school, Chestertown Middle School, received a waiver and chose to emphasize support and services and alternative classes. We have also seen significant improvement in their achievement levels.

The waivers on federal programs encouraged the Maryland State Department of education to give waivers on some of the state initiatives. For example, they waived graduation requirements for students to take functional citizenship tests, a very basic test that required students to do nothing more than memorize facts. By waiving the test, school systems were given the time and opportunity to work on instruction, curriculum, and assessments that will prepare high school students for a very rigorous high school assessment in government. A central part of the Ed-Flex process was the need to plan strategically. The Kent County Public School System was the first in Maryland to develop a consolidated plan. We had been using an annual strategic plan to design our school system. Consolidated planning of federal and state programs enabled us to expand the usefulness of our local plan. Consolidated planning for all our programs gave us the opportunity to view the school system's needs and determine the strategies that we needed to take to meet those needs and to plan more effectively for our actions. Folding Titles I, II, IV and VI and our state and local initiatives into one consolidated plan gave the Kent County Public School System the opportunity to develop a connected comprehensive blueprint for student success, a blueprint that helped us maximize our resources in a way that was unique to our needs. Education flexibility helps to make that blueprint work.

When I talk about flexibility, I don't mean free rein. I believe schools and school systems, including mine, must develop high standards and I must be held accountable for meeting those standards. The Maryland State Department of Education and the Kent County Board of Education have set very high standards for student achievement and the state's annual report card clearly reminds us of our progress on that system. The Kent County Public School System and the Maryland State Department of Education have shown me and other superintendents the targets of student achievement. Although the school system may need more resources, flexibility in using the existing resources will help us hit our targets.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my support.

See Appendix F for the Written Statement of Dr. Costella

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Dr. Costella. It is like you all coordinated the time. We have five minutes left in the vote, which is perfect. So we will stand in recess to the call of the chair. I understand it should be about 30 minutes. It is a rough guesstimate.

 

Mr. Scott. Are we going to reconvene after the vote and swearing in.

 

Chairman Castle. We are going to go over for the Journal vote and then the swearing in of Mr. Isakson. As soon as that is over, we will come back and reconvene for the questions and answers.

[Recess.]

 

Chairman Castle. The committee will come to order. We are done with the temporary business on the floor. Hopefully by the time we have to go back, we will be done with everything. We will now go through five minutes of questioning for each member, alternating from one side to the other. So I will start that process and, Dr. Joyner, I would like to ask you a couple of questions about the report and things you have found.

From the federal perspective, what can we do to increase the number of states that are eligible to participate in the Ed-Flex program looking at your chart over there?

 

Ms. Joyner. All right, yes, you are right. I think the chart might be helpful in that regard. In particular, the states that are highlighted in green, as I noted before, are the states that at this time are ineligible only because they do not have a Goals 2000 plan, and this would give me an opportunity actually to respond about North Carolina that has been approved by the Department of Education. And if you recall under Goals 2000, there was a change, I believe that was in 1996, to allow states to be eligible to receive funds under Goals 2000 without having to go through the same approval process from the Department that had been previously required. But the statute, however, still requires a Goals 2000 plan approved under that mechanism that is no longer required. So those 10 states, even if they have internally developed a Goals 2000 plan that they are using to guide their efforts under the statute, as interpreted by the Department would not be eligible even if the 12-state limit were raised.

So that is one change that would make those 10 states eligible.

The other states that are currently ineligible, as you can see also from the chart, fall into two categories. One is the states that are clearly ineligible for participation. That is also in my statement, if that chart is too far away with letters too small. But of those states that are what we describe as clearly ineligible at this time, some of those are ineligible because they lack a state plan as well as the other criterion, which is the ability to waive state-related requirements that might be in statute and regulations. So there are ultimately there are 10 states that cannot waive their own requirements and under the Department's interpretation, those that clearly cannot waive either of those would be ineligible. Those that can waive one but not the other would be potentially eligible, depending on where the majority of their rules related to education are placed, whether they are in statute or in regulations.

 

Chairman Castle. Let me ask you in a general way and I am now looking for a brief answer because I want to ask you another question and I want to ask others questions. Not to suggest that these things are simple when we talk about Goals 2000 plans and matters of that nature, but the various hurdles that are there to make us state eligible are all doable by any state; is that correct? We are not putting insurmountable hurdles or anything of that nature even if they have not done so yet?

 

Ms. Joyner. The Goals 2000 requirement, the states, I am not sure if the state actually could submit it to the Department for approval. They are no longer required to but what you ask is how could changes be made that would make them eligible certainly as in the House bill. If another planning process were substituted for that, those 10 states would become eligible.

 

Chairman Castle. Okay. Let me ask you another question. I don't know if you are familiar with this or not. But do the accountability provisions that we have added to our bill that require states set specific and measurable objectives and measure the performance of those affected by the waiver, adjust accountability concerns you raise in your report and we have heard otherwise and frankly that I am concerned about too?

 

Ms. Joyner. They are definitely a step in the direction of putting in more specificity about accountability. From our analysis of that bill some of the key things that would be done would be to require states to outline the goals they hope to achieve by having a waiver authority and to establish some clear and measurable objectives that they would then later report on their progress toward achieving. In addition, it would build in more specific oversight by the Department and review and so forth and those would definitely move in the direction that we have seen as desirable from the standpoint the states would be defining, and the issue would be to hold them accountable toward reaching their own goals.

 

Chairman Castle. Let me ask one more question and then I am going to yield and we will have another round of questions and perhaps I will just ask this to keep it limited to the two state people who have actually dealt with Ed-Flex, Ms. Manigold and Mr. Stubbs. That is, do you have any suggestions or concerns about our legislation to expand Ed-Flex? I don't know how familiar you are with it, but is there anything specific you would suggest to us that we should be looking at in this legislation that either is there and shouldn't be there or is not there and you think should be there?

 

Ms. Manigold. We have looked at it briefly and I appreciate the opportunity. We like the fact that the accountability provisions would be very similar to the things that we are doing. So I think that that would be very beneficial. The only concern that we have is that it would limit our ability to grant some waivers that had been very beneficial in the context of Texas and so given our strong accountability system and our ability to hold districts and campuses accountable for the students certified, the programs, we would prefer not to have any limitations on our waiver authority as long as we make it very clear that all students are benefiting the students who otherwise would be targeted and that we are maintaining the underlying purpose of the program, which we think is very important and we are committed to doing that.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you. Mr. Stubbs?

 

Mr. Stubbs. I also have briefly reviewed it and along with the same concerns from the State of Texas, I would say that the measure of connecting it to a comprehensive plan is very important and I don't know if it is in this specific bill but I know in others there is a reference to goals at the local level, which implies or assumes you are talking about a plan, but to get a comprehensive collaborative approach to improving education I think it is very important that it is tied to a comprehensive plan.

The other thing I would say is that in working with districts in Ohio, educators indicate to us or to myself that they are not as concerned as much with the amount of rules and regulations that are in place and being able to waive those as they are with the ability to be with consistency among those rules and regulations. And Ed-Flex allows for them to establish some consistency at the local level. It really is imperative that when they establish a two or three or four-year plan for their district, that if, say, for example they were planning to implement schoolwides without less than the 50 percent minimum poverty rate and Ed-Flex is not consistently there, then obviously those plans change. So again, I would just say, emphasize that they really would like the consistency that Ed-Flex offers them.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Stubbs. I will turn to Mr. Kildee.

 

Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you know, I am not a stranger to flexibility. I was chairman of this subcommittee in 1994, the last time that we reauthorized ESEA, and in that reauthorization we made Title I itself more flexible Mr. Goodling and I worked very closely in accomplishing that. We also authorized a waiver program for ESEA where localities could apply for a waiver with the Secretary of Education. And in Goals 2000, I was the sponsor of that bill, we added the Ed-Flex demonstration program for six states the first year and 6 additional states the next year. So as you see, I am not a stranger to flexibility. However, I approach it cautiously.

When either the Secretary through the ESEA waiver provisions or states through Ed-Flex grant flexibility in the use of federal education dollars, how should accountability be structured to assure that those dollars are spent productively and are utilized in a way to improve student achievement?

Ms. Joyner, you indicated that the provisions in the bill now seem to be headed in the right direction. However, if all of you could be more specific on how we should structure accountability. I think with flexibility we must have some type of accountability. Maybe if you could give us some guidance.

 

Ms. Joyner. As I was starting to indicate, I think that GAO, in talking about accountability, tends to refer to the Government Performance and Results Act, which operates at a higher level in terms of agencies, but I think the concepts are similar and that is to ask the agency, or in this case the state or the local school district, in return for the flexibility to be very clear about what they expect the result from that, what the goal is, what the measurable objectives are and at the same time how they will continue to ensure that the purposes of the federal program are met and that those purposes are achieved and not unduly deleted or thwarted. So the principle that I think I would derive from that larger approach to accountability is the responsibility of the entity asking for the flexibility to specify and then clearly document when they have achieved it.

 

Ms. Manigold. Very specifically, how we structure our accountability in Texas is that we test in reading and mathematics at grades three through eight and 10. What we ask for and we look at the results of those assessments in reading and mathematics according to all students as well as low income, economically disadvantaged children, African-American, Hispanic and white children. We desegregate the results. Secondly, then we have other tests of other subjects at different grade levels, for example, science and social studies at grade eight and we have writing at four, eight and 10, so we have other times we look at the assessments. For Ed-Flex, waivers of Title I provisions, and this is all Title I provisions, what we have set is a very high goal that all students and each of those student groups will be at 90 percent passing our state assessments in five years. For the schoolwide program campuses it is the campuses that are under the waivers specifically. For the waivers that address campus allocations where it appears that you are taking money from the high poverty campuses and letting lower poverty campuses have access to those, it is not just the campuses that receive the money that have to make the gain but rather it is all Title I eligible campuses, including those very high poverty campuses.

So we look at the entire Title I program in that district to see if that waiver should be continued because we can't sacrifice the performance of the students who are most in need because that is the underlying purpose of the federal Title I program. So that is something that we think is really important, is that you need to look at all of the students who are affected by the federal program and look at their performance annually to see if they are making the kind of gains that you all expect, that we expect.

Secondly, in terms of the point that Dr. Joyner was making, we think it is very important that you all have the ability, that Congress and the Department, have the ability to see how our children are performing. Whether you can have a single system of accountability, my hats off to you all in terms of your ability to try to develop a policy that works from Maine to Hawaii, from Point Barrow, Alaska down to Miami. That is a very difficult challenge. Whether you can rely on your state accountability systems to give you that accountability data, we would hope so because the Texas system is working for us.

 

Mr. Kildee. Mr. Chairman, could the others answer briefly? What I worry mainly about is having a greeting card in our bill that says we wish you happy accountability or have a nice accountability. We want something stronger than that.

 

Mr. Stubbs. In response to that, I would simply say the current structure of states actually applying for Ed-Flex waiver authority to the Department could very easily be connected to the fact that the state itself must have a strong accountability system in place prior to receiving that sort of authority as the same way then that local districts should have an accountability system in place before the state would grant them waiver authorities. And that in itself puts the accountability where I think it probably is best, at the local level and at the state level, which makes it accountable to the needs of that community at the local level and/or the state. So the structure would be that only states and only districts would receive these waivers or waiver authority provided they could evidence they had a strong performance accountability system in their state.

 

Mr. Ward. I would suggest three components of a strong accountability system that could be specified in the process. A limited number of measures. If there are too many measures for an accountability plan, there is no real accountability. Second, that the accountability plan include some standardized measures of performance and finally that there be real consequences in the accountability.

 

Ms. Costella. In Maryland there is a very strong and very public accountability system. Schools and school systems are measured in grades three, five, and eight on six core areas. That data is disaggregated. We are expected to present clear and measurable objectives for each school and for each school system to meet the state measures, how we are going to meet those standards, and present activities on how we are going to meet them. The fact that it is so very public makes us accountable not only to the State Department of Education, to our local boards but also to the people who employ me, the people in Kent County.

 

Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the extra time.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kildee.

 

Mr. Miller.

 

Mr. Miller. Thank you very much for your testimony this morning. I think it is very encouraging and makes me optimistic about what we might be able to do in this legislation. I was looking back through a 1993 pamphlet that was put out by the Department of Education talking about reinventing Chapter 1, and it said that they should treat states differently by expanding their flexibility and use of resources in exchange for performance accountability tied to schools and how this would in fact improve the disappointing results we have had with Title I over the last decade or so. And then along comes the GAO report, which says that in fact what you found was that many Ed-Flex States have not established any goals or have any defined or only vague objectives in your summary, and then in the body of the report, Dr. Joyner, you say that some states and districts have expressed their goals only in the vaguest of terms. For example, one state where the district was granted schoolwide program waiver, only nonspecific goals were reported, such as a commitment to the identification and implementation of programs that would create an environment in which all students would actualize their academic potential. Going on in the body of the report, you say, for example, one state has stated that it is able to review standardized test results only as a state as a whole. It can't disaggregate the evidence. And it seems to me that one-half of the bargain hasn't been kept here for many states that in fact got the review and that is the accountability provisions. Is that fair to say?

 

Ms. Joyner. As the Department interprets its role under Ed-Flex, makes allowance for some flexibility in interpreting accountability. The statute is specific. It has some language right now about what local school districts should do when they apply for waivers to the State Department, but in terms of the state guaranteeing to the Department that it will exercise accountability, there is not a lot of definition of what that means.

 

Mr. Miller. That is exactly my point. That is why I find this panel very encouraging because here, you obviously go on in your report to say only one Ed-Flex state, Texas, has set specific numerical criteria that are closely tied with both the schools and the districts with specific students affected by the waiver. I am familiar with Texas because I have been reading a lot about it since the GAO report and Maryland because of my familiarity with people in the state system there that have done this. And it seems to me that to do any less than this, to be able to disaggregate the data, to be able to hold people to a numerical goal, we are at the end of the first five-year period when all of this was supposed to be in place. We are at the end of the Goals 2000 funding period when all of this was supposed to be in place. With all due respect to the Department, according to your report, this is my interpretation. You don't have to agree with me that they have been the enablers of real sloppy practices with respect to accountability, real sloppy practices, and we have not gotten in exchange for the taxpayers of this country that which they outlined in 1993, which was about we were going to trade flexibility because we are clearly coming to an end of an era where the federal government was going to dominate the pulse in local school districts when I say local state districts are being very creative now about how to get the educational goals that everybody says they want for their children, their constituents, however you categorize these people. But that has not happened over the last five years except in a couple of cases here, which basically has been a state initiative. We haven't traded flexibility. Texas walked in the front door and says here's what we are prepared to do, as I understand the process that it went through and as I understand the statutes that are a matter of state law with respect to all children.

Now, the Department has been up here numerous times saying boy, we believe that all children can learn. Texas made it part of their statute and they said we will do you one better. We will talk about Hispanic children, African-American children, poor children, all children. It seems to me that that has got to be the threshold that enables us to go home.

My point in these hearings has been this. You know, people say why don't you run the government like a business. We are being asked to invest another 45 billion or $50 billion in Chapter 1. None of us could go home and say we expect the same results, we would tolerate the same results we have had the last decade. We have had these two transition programs, Ed-Flex and 2000, Goals 2000, and yet we are still talking about people making maybe substantial progress toward accountability where the local districts will be held accountable but the states don't even desegregate the data.

So I would just hope that you would speak out on behalf of this kind of really basic standards that you have led the way on and we should not enable other districts just to be sloppy with because they don't quite want to make the tough political decisions about accountability, and it is not easy. You know, Maryland front page story yesterday, you want to improve your teacher standards, you made a decision about the scores that are going to be acceptable, you also had to admit to the public that maybe half the teachers are going to fail.

 

Mr. Miller. That is not an easy political decision.

Plus, you know, if we are going to get to quality teachers, we have got to help you be able to provide a little steel in some states where they are a little weaker than other states about getting this job done.

I don't want to set your standards. But I would sure like to hear from people like we heard from Texas and Maryland and others about what you were prepared to do in exchange for this flexibility, and hopefully this bill will bring about that consequence. I just say, this is a real breath of fresh air, to hear the states tell us we have really have gone way beyond anything that this Department has talked about. And, fortunately, you are beacons for how we write this legislation.

I really want to thank all of you. Again, I am only familiar with the two states, but I really appreciate the testimony that the other two gave here this morning. And that is not a question.

 

Chairman Castle. Let me thank Mr. Miller.

Let me also point out that I have listened very carefully and Mr. Roemer has as well, who will be the next to ask questions, about what Mr. Miller is saying about accountability; and we have made an effort to write in a number of the things that you are talking about and that he is talking about. Whether we have done it a perfectly or not, I don't know.

Again, it is a one-size-fits-all question we have to pay some attention to. But for the members of the committee and their staffs who are here, I would just point out that that whole area of accountability has been beefed up over what it was before, based on the results of the states that we think have done best with it. So I think we might pay a little attention to it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

 

Mr. Miller. I would just hope as we write this legislation that we would keep our eye on the first page of the testimony of Ms. Manigold, about the context in which they developed this and the statewide approach and to school reform and assessments and testing and disaggregation of data, and then said to the Department, here is what we are prepared to do, because it is a great road map.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for this hearing and for the panel.

 

Chairman Castle. Certainly.

 

Mr. Roemer.

 

Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I am honored to join with you, was delighted to join with you last year, Mr. Chairman, in introducing this education flexibility legislation as a bipartisan initiative from a Republican and a Democrat to try to shake up the public school system in this country and to try to shake up the status quo, which nobody should be content with in this country.

There are too many savage inequalities between school districts and resources. There are too many children that are not learning appropriately and not being given a chance to learn from some of the poorer school districts. There are too many teachers who are not sufficiently licensed. There are all kinds of problems in our school districts.

And I am proud of public education in this country. I believe it is a very complicated solution that we need to implement in conjunction with our local school districts, giving local control to our schools but also providing leadership with resources at the federal level.

This Ed-Flex idea that Mike and I have worked on seems to me to comprise old values and new ideas: the old value of local control and parental involvement, not Washington, D.C., setting the standard, and the new idea of enhanced flexibility if there is student performance and achievement and if the states do not follow through on that.

I want to applaud Texas and Ohio and some of the other states that have gone far to put more enforcement and accountability in there. Then if you cannot see achievement on the part of the students, then you are going to revert back into the old regiment handcuffs and federal mandates and reams of paperwork that no governor and no school district wants.

So there is a lot of incentive and a lot of accountability, and Mr. Castle's and my bill is stronger accountabilitywise than existing law.

Let me ask a couple of questions.

First of all, to the GAO and Dr. Joyner, we had Secretary of Education Dick Riley up here the other day, and I asked him a series of questions: Was there any abuse in the waiver authority? He said no. Did the Civil Rights Commission issue a report saying that there has not been any dilution of money to Title I programs? The Civil Rights Commission said no.

Did you find any abuse in this waiver authority in your study?

 

Ms. Joyner. Let me, I will try to be brief, but explain theÖ

 

Mr. Roemer. I have only got 5 minutes. If you can be very brief.

 

Ms. Joyner. Yes, I know. We relied primarily on the reports of states submitted to the Department of Education as are required by the statute on how they used their waivers and what waivers they had done in terms of getting the detail about the waivers. So we were dependent on the information they provided about what the result had been of use of the waivers. So it was not an approach in that regard through which we would know whether they had in fact used the money, used the waiver authority appropriately or not.

We do have other information.

 

Mr. Roemer. So the answer to the question is, you weren't specifically looking into abuse, but you didn't find any?

 

Ms. Joyner. That is correct.

 

Mr. Roemer. Okay. Ms. Manigold, I really enjoyed your testimony. Some have expressed concerns that the use of Ed-Flex money would dilute Title I funds. You testified, however, that in Texas where we have seen some of the broadest waivers extended that, in fact, some of the most significant academic progress has been achieved, particularly in Title I programs and particularly, as Dr. Costella has said, with African-American and Hispanic low-income students. Could you tell the committee a little bit more about how you have been able to achieve that?

 

Ms. Manigold. Specifically.

 

Mr. Roemer. Can you get the microphone, please?

 

Ms. Manigold. What our local educators have told us about why Ed-Flex has worked, particularly for African-American, Hispanic and low-income children, is that there is a greater commitment on the part of the local campus, administrators, parents and teachers, because they have to ask for the waiver. Secondly, they are getting better support because it is something completely new for them. Third, our accountability system is there for the state as a whole, but use of the accountability estimate for Ed-Flex waivers reinforces that no child can be invisible. And, finally, it creates such a unity of purpose among the federal programs and the state programs at that campus, everyone is working for the same goal.

And that is a brief summary of why we think it works.

 

Mr. Roemer. I appreciate that.

Dr. Costella, I was fascinated and riveted by your testimony about I believe Garnett Elementary School.

 

Ms. Costella. Yes.

 

Mr. Roemer. I would like you to be a little bit more specific. You said with Garnett you initially applied for the Ed-Flex and your school had about a 45 percent rate of poverty and therefore eligibility for free and reduced lunches?

 

Ms. Costella. Yes.

 

Mr. Roemer. You were allowed to apply under Ed-Flex and then your school had a 10 percent increase in the poverty rate?

 

Ms. Costella. In the poverty level.

 

Mr. Roemer. And you went up to 55 percent?

 

Ms. Costella. Correct.

 

Mr. Roemer. So by the time you received that waiver, you had seen an increase in the poverty rate, you were already implementing. Could you tell us a little bit about your success in achieving better student performance after that Ed-Flex?

 

Ms. Costella. Certainly. I think one of the things that the Ed-Flex waiver permitted the school to do was really become a community school, where there isn't separate groups of youngsters, separate populations receiving services. They were able to pull in all of their parents, all of the community in terms of school improvement planning for the total school. We were able to take into account what we knew would be an increasing population of youngsters living in poverty.

We were able to predict that based on some of our past experiences with that particular community. We have seen that in some of our other schools, where we have had migrant workers, sometimes those youngsters aren't there when we are taking the counts, but they do come as part of the population later.

I think the importance in terms of the school was to see all of the youngsters as one population, to really look at how they could identify all of the youngsters coming into our pre-K program. We have a half-day 4-year-old program in all of the elementary schools. And teachers were able to really focus on identifying those youngsters for additional services, and then we are able to use Goals 2000 dollars and dollars from Title I for extended day program, extended year programs for those youngsters.

Again, going into a consolidated plan that looked at the total needs of that school, built-in accountability measures, there were measurable objectives that we are required to have for the flex waiver and then show that there is increases in student achievement. The African American males have met the standard in other areas besides mathematics, but, in mathematics, they are really hitting above the Caucasian youngsters.

 

Mr. Roemer. Both in the case of the African-American test scores and the Hispanic test scores, they are exceeding the Caucasian test scores whereas they weren't doing that five years ago?

 

Ms. Costella. We don't have a Hispanic population in this school.

 

Mr. Roemer. This is African-American test scores?

 

Ms. Costella. That is right. Specifically, it is overall African-American, but African-American males, where the area of focus and concern is, we have really seen some spectacular results.

 

Mr. Roemer. One final question, unless we are going to have a second round. I am fascinated by the panel and really grateful that they have come here today. Have we really been able to reassess and reevaluate this pull-out theory where we isolate these children and take them away from the rest of the classroom and that the success for all programs, the schoolwide program that Ms. Manigold and you have referred to, is the school is treated as a community and the parents seem to become more involved and you have more flexibility with this Title I program? Is that something that we are finding to be fairly universal?

 

Ms. Costella. Well, I think the research has told us all along that pullout programs aren't effective. Frequently in pullout programs you have instructional assists who may not have the training and the expertise of the teacher, so being able to use dollars to provide programs with certificated personnel for all students really has provided the added impetus for student achievement. We have known what the research has said about pullout programs.

 

Mr. Roemer. When the Ed-Flex can reach below the 50 percent and go down to 45 percent or so and create that success for a schoolwide program, that community feeling, and not isolate the kids and pull them out, you feel that is more a significant benefit of this program?

 

Ms. Costella. Yes. And I think that you mentioned about student feelings. Kids know whether they are being pulled out and they are part of a special group. They know if they are going to be treated differently. They pick that up very quickly in kindergarten and pre-K. In a school our program really develops that sense of community school.

 

Mr. Roemer. Thank you.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Roemer.

We turn to Mr. Scott now.

 

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Title I old school, the percentage, the 50 percent cutoff has been mentioned as the major regulation that is a problem. Are there other regulations that we are aiming for with Ed-Flex other than that one? Or is that the main problem?

 

Mr. Stubbs. The one that, I believe at least in Ohio, that has been requested the most is the Title I less than 50 percent threshold. The other one that we have received almost exclusively, as I said before, was the Eisenhower Professional Development, the limit of I believe it is 75 percent of the funds being targeted at mathematics and science professional development for teachers.

And, in Ohio, the districts that can evidence that they have achievement in math and science on the state performance accountability system, then they can ask for or receive a waiver to focus on other areas within the state proficiency test. So it would be the Eisenhower Professional Development Program, that Ohio has experienced.

 

Ms. Manigold. In terms of numbers, you are certainly correct. We do have in Texas, however, about 50 roughly, districts that have requested waivers of the campus allocation requirements in Title I. And let me speak briefly to how that has been used for success.

Our largest district has over 200,000 students. They divide it into subdistricts. And so one of the area's superintendents was speaking of how the campus allocation waiver had been helpful to him and his students. Specifically, what this means is that he used the waiver for say, campuses, gives us a comprehensive plan of how you want to spend the Title I monies, rather than allocating them in rank order. What he found was that comprehensive plans have enabled his campuses to do a far better job of figuring out how they really need to use the Title I monies in the context of their comprehensive plan.

And, secondly, he cites this Ed-Flex waiver as one of the three factors that has allowed his district to make phenomenal gains. Five of his campuses have reached the level of recognized performance, which means that 80 percent of all students and 80 percent of African-American, Hispanic and low-income students are passing the state assessment, so 5 out of the 16.

 

Mr. Scott. Exactly which regulation was eliminated that allowed this success to take place?

 

Ms. Manigold. Giving campus allocations in Title I based on the rank order of poverty. Section 1113(c)(1).

 

Mr. Scott. I am sorry? And that means that money will go to some schools rather than others or within the school?

 

Ms. Manigold. Based on their need within the campuses, some campuses might receive less than they would have received under law, some campuses would receive more than they would have received under law.

 

Mr. Scott. And so you are taking from one school and giving to another?

 

Ms. Manigold. That is correct. And that is the importance of our accountability provision. What we are looking at is the performance of all of the campuses that are affected by this reallocation.

 

Mr. Scott. Part of the Title I funding is to aim the money where it is most needed?

 

Ms. Manigold. That may or may not be the case to that individual campus. We have some campuses that, despite very high poverty levels, are making excellent gains. They may not need as much as a slightly less impoverished campus.

 

Mr. Scott. Dr. Ward.

 

Mr. Ward. I would like to echo the thoughts from Texas about the utility of having some flexibility with the threshold. We anticipate that that would be one of the great areas where we would want to exercise the flexibility, also. And, right now, under a waiver process, since we are not an Ed-Flex state, that is, frequently, our requests for flexibility originate as well.

But I also anticipate that we are going to have a number of flexibility requests with the advent of new federal dollars; for example, the federal dollars related to class size reduction. Right now, in North Carolina, we are in a position where, over the past several years, we have invested a fair amount in early grades class size reduction.

The federal dollars offer us an opportunity to do some additional things in other grades and at a time when we are getting ready to implement very strong student promotion standards. So I can anticipate wanting to exercise flexibility with those federal dollars and that that would be an area of great interest, including the flexibility, not only to waive the particular grade levels but to be able to exercise that class size reduction in smaller increments, math and other curriculums, for example.

 

Mr. Scott. That leads me for a final query, and that is why should we do the Ed-Flex as a separate bill rather than considering all of this in conjunction with reauthorization of ESEA? Because the question of what the correct percentage is might be something that we might want to deal with and get rid of it or whatever. Because it seems like we are saying that if you have a school with 30 percent disadvantaged students, it may make more sense to do a schoolwide project rather than wait for it to get to 50 percent, and that ought to be something considered in the overall Title I or the ESEA reauthorization.

 

Mr. Ward. I would like to respond to that, if I could. I would like that flexibility as soon as possible. And I am not sure how soon ESEA reauthorization will take place, but I would like the chance to exercise that flexibility as soon as possible.

And if I can be so bold as to recommend there may be a way to address both concerns by creating a sunset provision for Ed-Flex that would be coterminous with that point at which the ESEA authorization would occur so that it can resolve both. But I would really like to take advantage of the flexibility as soon as possible.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Scott. Those are interesting questions and an important matter. We have Mr. Ford to go to. We have another vote. What I think I am going to try to do is go through Mr. Ford's questions. I actually had a couple more and Mr. Kildee had a few, but I don't know if we are going to be able to get to them or not. Let's go to Mr. Ford, and we will see where we are at that point.

 

Mr. Ford. Mr. Chairman, many of the questions I would have asked have already been asked. I defer to you and Mr. Kildee.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Ford. I appreciate it. This is a question that you might be interested in, too. Actually, a lot of the questions that have just been asked are exactly what I was going to ask anyhow. If you feel you don't want to make a comment on this, you don't have to. You each have up to 30 seconds to make a comment, if you wish.

It is a very simple question and, as I said, you have already stated it, but you sort of started off. Dr. Costella, I am going to start with you; and I am interested in Dr. Ward's comments and Dr. Joyner's comments as well, even though you don't have a state and the other doesn't have Ed-Flex.

And, by the way, Dr. Ward, I admire greatly what North Carolina has done in education over the years I have been in public service. You have done a great job, too.

But do you find children in your highest poverty schools better off under Ed-Flex? I heard a lot more about that today than I realized that I would, in terms of how that has been able to help obviously with the schoolwide approach and various steps of that nature.

Anything you haven't already said? I know it has been a said a lot. Anything you could add to that, I would be interested in hearing. That is, the impact of Ed-Flex the schools with a lot of children in poverty in them.

 

Ms. Costella. I think it is better for youngsters in terms of achievement, certainly, but I think it is also better for them socially and emotionally. And it is better for the school in terms of parent and community involvement when you have a schoolwide program.

 

Mr. Ward. We are not an Ed-Flex state. We find youngsters better off in high poverty schools as a result of a strong accountability plan and state flexibility. What Ed-Flex would do for North Carolina is expand that flexibility opportunity with the federal funds as well.

 

Mr. Ford. Mr. Chairman, I just have one question when you finish with that.

 

Mr. Stubbs. I would simply echo Dr. Costella's statements.

 

Chairman Castle. Ms. Manigold.

 

Ms. Manigold. Dr. Ward hit it right on the nose. The strong accountability system insures that all students including those in high poverty campuses must make gains.

 

Chairman Castle. Dr. Joyner, is there something you would like to add? Do you have any comments or not?

 

Ms. Joyner. No.

 

Chairman Castle. Let's go to Mr. Ford's question then.

 

Mr. Ford. I did promise, Mr. Kildee. I will defer to my ranking member. If you don't mind, may I go, Mr. Kildee? Is that okay?

Dr. Ward said something, not in this answer, in a recent answer regarding ESEA authorization, as well as the Ed-Flex extension of it. You talked about it being coterminous. My question would be just sort of a piggyback on that. If indeed we were to accept what the President has proposed in regard to linking federal funding to success, how would that impact, if Ed-Flex would be extended to your state and we were to pass the Roemer-Frist-Wyden proposal that is on the floor now?

 

Chairman Castle. Castle.

 

Mr. Ford. Excuse me, Mr. Castle. I am still thinking of him as governor. But the Castle-Roemer-Wyden-Frist proposal, how would that impact your ability to implement the programs that would be successful? And I would ask all the witnesses that.

 

Mr. Ward. I think it would give us the flexibility to do some of the things I have already made reference to, the flexibility to work with schools right now who don't meet the 50 percent threshold. And right now we have some schools that are not eligible under the current configuration but have high levels of students not yet at proficiency. And our target is students at proficiency. That would, I believe, strengthen our capability to reach schools in crisis that don't necessarily meet the 50 percent threshold.

The second thing it would do is allow us to implement a strong student promotion standard and to be able to target to individual students the assistance and the resources they are going to need if they are going to be held to those high promotion standards, and not only Title I funds but, as I said earlier, the class size reduction funds particularly for reading and math.

 

Mr. Ford. In other words, the Clinton proposal would not hurt, the standards are not so onerous or burdensome it would be difficult to comply what he is calling for, ending social promotion and some sort of accountability as to how these dollars are being spent?

 

Mr. Ward. No, we don't believe so. In fact, we believe that the students who have the most to gain under such a system if it is implemented are those who traditionally have fared least well in the system.

 

Mr. Ford. I see Dr. Costella is shaking her head. If you would just answer the question.

 

Ms. Costella. I certainly support what people have said in terms of the accountability. We need to have the flexibility. We need to have the resources. But you have to hold our feet to the fire. Our mission is for that increased student achievement, but we have to show that not just to this particular group but to our public in terms of measurable goals. And the kinds of plans that we need to do need to indicate what we are going to measure and how we are going to measure it.

 

Mr. Ford. I yield to Mr. Kildee, if there is any time.

 

Mr. Kildee. I will be brief. We have a vote.

One of the ideas which Chairman Goodling has expressed is to break ESEA into several separate bills and pass them individually, a bill for Ed-Flex, a separate bill for Title I, and possibly 14 other bills. He hasn't indicated exactly how we will proceed.

Let me ask you Dr. Ward. How do you feel about this?

 

Mr. Ward. I would certainly want to study such a proposal further, but it seems to me that that leads to further fragmentation of effort. I would like to see this in kind of a well-coordinated package.

 

Mr. Kildee. Thank you. Just one other comment. You mentioned some of the elements that are necessary for accountability. One of these elements that the Chairman and I have been discussing up here is consequences. If we could have a dialogue with all of you on that, it would be helpful to us.

 

Mr. Ward. Sure.

 

Mr. Kildee. That is all, Mr. Chairman.

 

Chairman Castle. Let me thank you, everybody, a great deal. We are moving ahead, just so you understand, with the Ed-Flex bill separately. We feel it can stand separate and apart. There are some other discussions about the elementary and secondary education, what components should be separated or together. We are probably going to move ahead fairly rapidly.

You have been a very excellent panel, and we truly appreciate that.

We didn't get to ask all of our questions. That is the bad news, and the worst news is we may submit them to you in writing. We hope you can submit answers to us. And, as I said, we may need some of that fairly quickly, but I think you have helped enlighten us and, hopefully, the entire Congress with respect to idea of education flexibility.

We thank you very much for being here, and this subcommittee stands adjourned. Thank you.

[Whereupon, at 11:40 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]