Because of delays related to bad weather earlier this year, No Child Left Behind test data for Kentucky schools won't be ready in time for the start of the new school year, the state Department of Education says.
Normally, Kentucky releases NCLB data around the first of August.
But state Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross said this year's scores might not be ready until mid or late September. Schools with low scores must offer parents the option of transferring their youngsters to other schools. But in many cases, officials won't know which schools will have to do that until scores are available.
As a result, Gross said, Kentucky education officials have asked the federal Department of Education to waive a requirement that parents must be notified 14 days before classes open if their children qualify to transfer under NCLB. The bottom line, according to Gross, is that some youngsters might be not able to transfer until well after schools have opened.
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In Fayette County — where public schools open Aug. 12 — officials acknowledge that transfers after classes already are underway can be disruptive for students. But officials said they'll do everything possible to accommodate parents who choose to have their children transfer.
This isn't the first time that Kentucky's No Child Left Behind scores have been delayed. Scores were released later than expected two years ago because of new testing standards
This time, the weather was the culprit, Gross said.
Ice storms in January and snowy weather over the winter closed many schools, limiting the amount of time teachers had available to prepare students for testing, Gross said. Spring flooding made the problem even worse.
For example, Gross cited Pike County's Belfry Middle School, where students' completed test booklets were destroyed by flooding in early May. The school couldn't re-test its students, since many of them had temporarily moved out of the area because their homes were flooded, she said. The school shut down.
Belfry's tests were never sent in to be scored.
"The school made a good faith effort; they gave the tests and had them packed up ready to be sent in, when here came several feet of water," Gross said. "You can't plan for those kinds of things."
Since Belfry, in effect, has no tests scores, Kentucky officials are asking the federal government to excuse the school from NCLB reporting requirements this year, Gross said.
Under No Child Left Behind, schools with large populations of low-income students can face sanctions if they fail to meet test goals. Schools that miss goals two straight years are rated "Tier I" status, and are required to offer parents the option of switching their youngsters to other schools.
"It's not that much of a complication for us, but if a parent does choose to transfer their child, it does disrupt their school year," said Paula Whitmer, Title I coordinator for Fayette County Schools. "So, some parents simply might decide that they don't want to do transfers because schools will already be open."
Fayette County has five Tier I schools that definitely will have to offer student transfers this year. They are Cardinal Valley, Crawford Middle, Leestown Middle, Tates Creek Middle, and Bryan Station High School.
But the verdict is still out on Winburn Middle School and Russell Cave Elementary. Both schools are Tier I now. But if they reach their NCLB test goals this year, they can drop the Tier I rating and will no longer have to offer student transfers.
"We feel confident that they will make it," Whitmer said.
But any parents at those schools who are contemplating transferring their students will have to wait until sometime in September to find out.