USED Guidance on Collecting Average Daily Attendance

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USED Guidance on Collecting Average Daily Attendance

This week, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released their plans for collecting average daily attendance (ADA) data from States for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years (SYs). For context, NCES collects ADA data annually through the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) for use, among other things, in distributing funds for several of the Department’s programs. Specifically, the Department is providing States flexibility for reporting SY 2019-2020 ADA data to ensure the data are consistent and as accurate as possible. As required by section 8101(1) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), each State will continue to report ADA based on either the Federal or the State’s definition of ADA. The options available to states are listed below:

If using the Federal ADA definition, the following options are available:
  1. States unable to accurately report ADA for remote learning days occurring as a result of COVID-19: Report the aggregate number of days of attendance of all students during SY 2019-2020 for each school or LEA and the number of days each school or LEA was in session during SY 2019-2020 until the date that school facilities closed for in-person learning due to COVID-19, and a State determined that it could no longer accurately report ADA.  
  2. States able to accurately report ADA for remote learning days occurring as a result of COVID-19: Report the aggregate number of days of attendance of all students during SY 2019-2020 for each school or LEA and the number of days each school or LEA was in session for the same school year. Under this option, States would report attendance on days each school or LEA was in session and attendance was collected, including remote learning days (including distance education, distance learning, and digital learning) completed before the date SY 2019-2020 ended. If States have a temporary inability to report attendance, they may include in ADA data reporting those days for which attendance was collected subsequent to the interruption. States have the flexibility to report under this option even if they are unable to report remote learning days from all schools or LEAs.

If using your State ADA definition, the following options are available:

  1. States unable to accurately report ADA for remote learning days occurring as a result of COVID-19: Report, consistent with State law or regulation, the aggregate number of days of attendance of all students during SY 2019-2020 for each school or LEA and the number of days each school or LEA was in session until the date school facilities closed for in-person learning due to COVID-19 and a State determined that it could no longer accurately report ADA or report under the Federal ADA definition for SY 2019-2020.  
  2. States able to accurately report ADA for remote learning days occurring as a result of COVID-19: Report ADA as defined by State law or regulation. Under this option, States would report on attendance on days each school or LEA was in session and attendance was collected, including remote learning days (including distance education, distance learning, and digital learning) completed before the date SY 2019-2020 ended.

NCES plans to continue collaborating with States to ascertain the content of ADA data that States can accurately report and provide further clarification, if appropriate, in the FY 2020 reporting instructions to collect those data for SY 2019-2020. To support this effort, NCES will also provide technical support to State Fiscal Coordinators through quarterly interactive webinars to help support consistent collection and submission of accurate ADA data for SY 2020-2021. Furthermore, NCES has convened a panel of State Fiscal Coordinators and LEA-level personnel to review potential changes in how ADA data is being reported by LEAs and States, make recommendations to clarify ADA reporting instructions, and develop best practices for reporting ADA data. Based on comments and suggestions from State Fiscal Coordinators and LEA-level personnel, additional guidance on potential remote attendance tracking options for SY 2020-2021 will be provided as necessary. You can access the full details on NCES guidance to states and LEAS by clicking here.

House Democrats Propose $466 Billion to Help Schools Crippled by Virus

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House Democrats Propose $466 Billion to Help Schools Crippled by Virus

Today, the House Education and Labor Committee unveiled three new bills aimed at upgrading school facilities, saving teachers’ jobs, and extending the school year to offset learning loss that has resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic. Altogether, the trio of bills totals $466 billion in federal education funding over the next decade. 
 
Until now, Congress provided more than $67 billion for elementary and secondary schools in separate emergency relief packages last year. However, as AASA and others have highlighted for the Hill and Biden-Harris Administration, more funding is necessary to contend with the disruptions to K-12 school since the initial COVID-19 outbreak mushroomed last year. 
 
As such, AASA was proud to see that Congress is holding its commitment to deliver additional economic relief to K-12 districts thus far in the 117th session. On the package’s outlook of passage on Capitol Hill, it is yet to be seen whether the bills will make it through the 50/50 split between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. Still, we are cautiously optimistic that the package will move via President Biden's proposed $130B COVID-19 economic relief bill or through budget reconciliation. Therefore, to help our members stay abreast of the recent development of the bills, and what they mean for education, please check out our quick and dirty analysis on the bills below.

 

The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021

  • The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021 (RRASA) invests $130 billion in bonds and grant programs – targeted at high-poverty schools – to help reopen public schools and provide students and educators a safe place to learn and work. The funding from this legislation would be appropriated on an emergency basis to facilitate school reopening and could be used to upgrade school buildings and their heating and ventilation systems. To check out a section-by-section analysis of the bill, click here.

The Save Education Jobs Act

  • More than half a million jobs in local school systems have been lost since the pandemic started, or more than during the entirety of the Great Recession. To preserve the educator workforce, the Save Education Jobs Act would create an education jobs fund that would send $261 billion to states and local school districts over the next 10-years. To check out a section-by-section analysis of the bill, click here.

The Learning Recovery Act

  • Recent studies have found academic progress slowed during the pandemic, although not as much as initially feared. Still, many of these analyses say that millions of students may not have attended classes since many school districts switched to remote learning. To contend with this emerging trend, the Learning Recovery Act would authorize $75 billion over the next two years to fund summer school, longer school days, or other academic programs. A section-by-section analysis of the bill is available by clicking here.

Biden Issues National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

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Biden Issues National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

On January 21, President Biden released a roadmap an actionable plan across the federal government to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including twelve initial executive actions that will be issued by President Biden during his first two days in office. To execute on the National Strategy, the White House will establish a COVID-19 Response Office responsible for coordinating the pandemic response across all federal departments and agencies

AASA applauds the clear, strong and decisive direction being demonstrated on Day One of the Biden Administration. This is a much-needed step forward in a coordinated response to the ongoing pandemic, and will help to alleviate some of the downward pressure and decision making that was placed upon local leaders to date.

Specific to the plan’s education-related elements, we are pleased to see many of the items AASA had recommended and mentioned in our communications with the transition team, including:

  • a focus on K-12 education funding;
  • restoring the FEMA reimbursement for schools;
  • a national testing strategy that supports school screening testing programs and provides clear, unified approach and TA for testing in schools;
  • updated public health guidance on containment and mitigation measures that provides metrics for schools to measure and monitor the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19 as well as updated guidance on physical distancing protocols, and contact tracing in schools;
  • a national strategy for safely reopening schools, including requiring ED & HHS to provide guidance on safe reopening and operating, and to develop a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse to share lessons learned and best practices from across the country;
  • pushing the FCC to support student connectivity in their homes.
This direct responsiveness to practitioner feedback is critical and demonstrates that the Biden Administration, serious in its priority of opening schools in its first 100 days, recognizes that the ultimate work and responsibility of opening schools lies with local school system leaders and that as such, their voice, insights and recommendations should be reflected in any nation-wide plan. We look forward to working with the Biden administration, welcome the confirmation of Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona, and stand ready to support the important work of safely opening the nation’s schools.

ED Releases New Guidance on ELP Assessments

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ED Releases New Guidance on ELP Assessments

On January 18th, the U.S. Department of Education released an addendum fact sheet titled “Providing Services to English Learners During  the COVID-19 Outbreak” to better explain SEA and LEAs’ responsibilities for assessing English learners during the pandemic. The document reiterates that while ESEA requires an annual statewide ELP assessment there are no prescribed Federal timelines for that annual assessment. Thus, an SEA may adjust its dates for administering the ELP assessment to address challenges due to the pandemic, e.g., by changing its testing window. However, the ELP assessment should be conducted as soon as safely possible in order to provide useful information for districts, teachers, and parents. Furthermore, an SEA has the discretion under the ESEA to administer the ELP assessment remotely or in person. 

 

The Department is also extending the flexibility related to the standardized entrance procedures, so that an LEA may continue to identify and provide ELs support as soon as possible. That is, an SEA may continue to implement its adjusted standardized statewide entrance procedures until its LEAs are able to administer their regular screener assessment. This does not change the obligation of districts to assess students for EL status within 30 days of enrollment in a school in the State. However, the LEA can wait until schools are physically reopen to complete the full identification procedures to promptly ensure proper identification and placement for new ELs. Like an SEA, an LEA must treat a student identified as an EL through modified entrance procedures as an EL for all purposes (e.g., by including such students in its count of ELs for purposes of Title III subgrants to LEAs, providing appropriate language instruction services to such students, and administering the annual ELP assessment to such students).

 

Lastly, the Department is also extending the flexibility regarding statewide exit procedures. The extended flexibility permits such an LEA, for the 2020-2021 school year, to base exit decisions solely on the ELP assessment. All LEAs must continue to meet the requirement that a score of proficient on the statewide ELP assessment be used in order to exit a student from EL status.  

New Guidance: USDA Meal Waivers & FRPL

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New Guidance: USDA Meal Waivers & FRPL

Due to the impact of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nationwide waivers – which support students’ access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19 through June 30, 2021 – this week, the U.S. Dept. of Education (USED) released a document that provides Local Education Agencies (LEA) and State Education Agencies (SEA) with guidance on how to carry out the data collection activities for the education programs associated with the federal school meals programs. Specifically, this guidance pertains to the National School Lunch Program data collection activities associated with Title I, Part A – Improving Basic Programs; Title II, Part A – Supporting Effective Instruction; and Title V, Part B – Rural and Low-Income School Program (RLIS) for the 2021-2022 school year.
 
For many LEAs that have chosen to participate in USDA’s federal meals program waivers, complete NSLP data collected through household applications may not be available from school year 2020-2021. As such, USED's fact sheet outlines options for SEAs and LEAs to implement their ESEA programs without complete NSLP data. The good news here is that according to the guidance, using data from the 2019-2020 school year is allowable for all circumstances, which means that ED has essentially created a hold harmless provision for school districts and states that have seen a decline in Free and Reduced-Price Lunch forms. You can check out the full document by clicking here
 

USDA NPRM: Restoration of Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Flexibilities

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USDA NPRM: Restoration of Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Flexibilities

Last week, AASA, the Association of School Business Officials International, the Association of Education Service Agencies, the National Rural Education Association, and the National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium submitted a letter in support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the restoration of milk, whole-grains, and sodium flexibilities under the National School Lunch and Breakfast Act. For background, the NPRM finalizes the Department's 2012 interim rulemaking process concerning provisions in the Healthy Hunger Free-Kids Act (HHFKA) that ensure all school districts, regardless of socioeconomic status or size, can reasonably meet the nutritional requirements under the law. 

If passed, the regulation will allow schools to continue offering flavored, low-fat milk (1% fat) at lunch and breakfast and as a beverage for sale à la carte and require that unflavored milk (fat-free or low-fat) be available at each school meal service; mandate that only half of the weekly grains served in school meals be whole grain-rich; and postpone initial sodium reduction requirements until the 2023─2024 school year and eliminate final sodium target levels established in HHFKA. In layman's terms, USDA’s policy means targeted long-term regulatory flexibility for school districts, which is practical and necessary to serve appealing meals that decrease food waste and increase student participation in NSLP and SBP. 
 
AASA was proud to lead this allied effort and continue advocating for the regulatory flexibilities that are necessary for school administrators to feed students. You can access our letter by clicking here