There must be some furrowed brows at the U.S. Department of Education this morning: the state of Colorado, in its No Child Left Behind waiver application, has indicated that it intends to keep supplemental educational services (SES).
In an Education Week column last week, Colorado State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer writes that Colorado plans to use state standards to govern SES, and to give local districts greater flexibility in targeting the program to those schools and students who can most use the extra help. Along the way, he cites research, including a U.S. Department of Education report which cites what Schaffer calls “statistically significant gains in math and reading achievement” among SES participants.
Congratulations to Mr. Schaffer, the state of Colorado, and especially to Colorado students, who will be able to continue to benefit from an improved SES program that has made a significant difference for hundreds of thousands of students and families since its inception in 2002.
Colorado has done what EIA unsuccessfully urged so many other states to do – not to view SES as a black-or-white, “either-or” decision, but rather to improve the operations and mechanics of a fundamentally good and effective program which gives families real choices, and produces for kids real and long-lasting outcomes.
We can only hope that Colorado’s decision to do what’s right for its students will serve as a lesson to the U.S. Department of Education, and to the dozens of states that chose to follow the Department’s unwritten yet effectively communicated invitation to jettison SES.
What will they say to the hundreds of thousands of parents and families who until now have been able to access the kind of tutoring previously available on a private pay basis to those much wealthier? Trust us and let us make all the decisions for your child? Hang in there?
The national K-12 public education community will no doubt watch Colorado as it embarks on its journey with a new and improved SES program. Will the U.S. Department of Education and Congress do the same?