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No Child Left Behind FAQ's: Public School Choice

No Child Left Behind includes many new responsibilities and requirements for states, school districts, and schools. The law also includes new rights and responsibilities for children who attend public schools that receive Title I funds and their parents.

These "Frequently Asked Questions" from the No Child Left Behind website at www.nclb.gov will answer many of your questions about the following topics:

Public School Choice

10. Do the public school choice options include only schools in the same district, or might they include schools in neighboring school districts?
11. Will transportation be offered to pupils exercising public school choice options?
12. Which pupils will be eligible for public school choice?
13. How do I know if my child is eligible for supplemental services?
14. How can I find out what kind of extra help is available from the school?
15. Who will provide supplemental services?
16. Can community-based organizations participate in programs funded under No Child Left Behind?
17. If my child is in a charter school, do testing and accountability apply?
18. Does No Child Left Behind provide for the facility financing of charter schools?

10. Do the public school choice options include only schools in the same district, or might they include schools in neighboring school districts?

Options may include a neighboring school district. If a school is identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, your district must provide all students in the school the option to transfer to another public school that is not in need of improvement, no later than the first day of the school year following identification.

However, if all public schools served by the district are in school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, the district must try to establish a cooperative agreement with other districts to provide students the option to transfer to another public school. In addition, nothing in the No Child Left Behind Act prohibits districts from establishing cooperative agreements, regardless of whether all schools in a particular district are in need of improvement. Public school choice must be provided unless state law prohibits it.

11. Will transportation be offered to pupils exercising public school choice options?

Yes. Districts must provide transportation required for a student to exercise public school choice under school improvement, corrective action, restructuring, or interdistrict choice offered as part of corrective action for a school.

12. Which pupils will be eligible for public school choice?

All children attending schools identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring are eligible to exercise public school choice, but districts must give priority to low-income students (as defined by the district) if it is not possible to serve all students.

13. How do I know if my child is eligible for supplemental services?

Eligible children are those from low-income families (as defined by the school district) who are attending a school in its second year of school improvement, in corrective action, or identified for restructuring.

14. How can I find out what kind of extra help is available from the school?

Your school must provide you with a list of the programs available in the area, so you have a full set of options to find whatever services your child needs to get caught up.

Schools that are required to provide supplemental services must:

annually notify parents of the availability of those services, including the identity and qualifications of approved providers and a description of the services they provide;
help parents select a provider, if such help is requested; and
enter into an agreement with a provider for each student that includes goals and a timetable for improving the student's achievement, regular progress reports, a provision for termination if the provider fails to meet the goals, timetables, and payment terms.

15. Who will provide supplemental services?

Providers can be non-profit, including faith-based organizations, or for-profit entities with a "demonstrated record of effectiveness" in increasing student academic achievement. The provider must be capable of providing supplemental educational services consistent with the instructional program of the district and the state's academic standards.

In addition, providers must give parents and the school information on the progress of the children served, ensure that instruction is consistent with state and local standards, including state student academic achievement standards, and meet applicable health, safety, and civil rights laws.

16. Can community-based organizations participate in programs funded under No Child Left Behind?

Yes. Community-based organizations and other public entities and private organizations, including faith-based organizations that provide safety and drug abuse programs, can apply for Federal funds under the law.

17. If my child is in a charter school, do testing and accountability apply?

The accountability and testing provisions in No Child Left Behind must also be applied to charter schools in accordance with states' charter school laws. As public schools, charter schools are subject to the same accountability and testing requirements, but state authorized chartering agencies, as established by state law, are responsible for ensuring charter schools are meeting the requirements and being held accountable.

18. Does No Child Left Behind provide for the facility financing of charter schools?

Yes. No Child Left Behind includes two measures that provide for the facility financing of charter schools. The first measure provides facility-financing assistance to states and localities that support charter schools by allowing the Secretary of Education to award matching incentive grants to those states that provide charter schools with per-pupil expenditure funds.

The second measure extends the Charter School Facility Financing Demonstration Project for an additional two years. The Charter School Facility Financing Demonstration Project encourages the development of innovative approaches to credit enhancement and leverages private capital for charter schools to use for infrastructure needs.

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