CHAPTER 399

FORMERLY

SENATE SUBSTITUTE NO. 1

FOR

SENATE BILL NO. 250

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PUBLIC EDUCATION.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Chapter 1, Title 14, Delaware Code by adding new sections 153-158 thereto to read as follows:

"§ 153. Matriculation and Academic Promotion Requirements.

(a) The Department shall identify five levels of individual student performance relative to the state content standards on the assessments administered pursuant to subsection (h) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter to fulfill the following three important functions:

(1) determine the level(s) of individual performance sufficient to demonstrate grade level proficiency;

(2) determine the level(s) of individual performance sufficient to demonstrate superior and proficient performance meriting recognition for outstanding and standards-level achievement pursuant to subsection (b) of this section; and

(3) determine the level(s) of individual performance inadequate to demonstrate grade level proficiency and which warrant requiring students performing at such levels to participate in academic improvement activities as specified in subsection (c) of this section.

(b) The Department may specify, by regulation, the role of other individual student indicators in determining a student's performance level pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

(c) The Department, by regulation, shall establish a program to recognize superior and proficient student performance on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter. Such a program for superior and proficient performance shall include: the award of certificates and plaques and the endorsement or student transcripts. The program shall also include the award of funds which may be used by students who demonstrate superior performance to defray the costs of postsecondary education. Scholarships awarded pursuant to this program shall he administered by the Higher Education Commission. The number of such scholarships to be awarded annually and the amount of such scholarships shall be specified in the fiscal year 2000 annual appropriations act and in annual appropriations acts thereafter.

(d) The Department shall require that students whose performance on the assessments administered pursuant to subsection (b) of § 151 of this subchapter is inadequate to demonstrate grade level proficiency, benchmarked to the extent practicable to accurately reflect the point in the school year that students actually are administered the statewide assessment, participate in academic improvement activities as follows:

(1) The Department shall require that a district place a student whose performance on the reading portion of the assessments administered pursuant to subsection (b) of this subchapter does not meet grade level proficiency (including those students whose performance approaches but does not meet grade level proficiency) in a summer school program to remediate those areas of weakness demonstrated on the state assessment. Unless the student demonstrates a proficient level of reading performance on the reading assessment or a Department of Education-approved alternative subsequent to participation in the summer remedial program, the district shall develop an individual improvement plan for the student pursuant to the Department regulations established pursuant to subsection (d)(2) of this section.

(2) The Department shall require that a student whose performance on the reading portion of the statewide assessments administered pursuant to subsection (b) of § 151 of this subchapter is below or far below grade level proficiency be retained at his or her current grade level (but not those students whose performance approaches but does not meet grade level proficiency); provided, however, that the student may be promoted to the next grade level if he or she demonstrates a proficient level of reading performance on the reading assessment or a Department of Education-approved alternative subsequent to participation in a summer remedial program and prior to the commencement of the next school year or if the student has previously been retained for two years because of inadequate academic performance. During any retention year required pursuant to this subsection, the student's district shall require the student to pursue a course of study designed specifically to improve the student's reading ability to a proficient level. With respect to a student whose reading performance continues to be deficient after completion of the retention year. the Department shall not require that the student's district retain the student at grade level for another year, but shall require that the district develop an individual improvement plan pursuant to Department regulations. The Department regulations shall require that each individual improvement plan identify a specific course of study for the student and the academic improvement activities the student must undertake in order to improve the student's reading ability to a proficient level. Such activities may include mandatory participation in summer school, extra instruction, and mentoring programs.

(3) The Department shall require that a district place an eighth grade student whose performance on the statewide mathematics assessment administered pursuant to subsection (b) of § 151 of this subchapter does not meet grade level proficiency (including those students whose performance approaches but does not meet grade level proficiency) in a summer school program to remediate those areas of weakness demonstrated on the state assessment. Unless the student demonstrates a proficient level of performance on the mathematics assessment or Department of Education-approved alternative subsequent to participation in the summer remedial program, the district shall develop an individual improvement plan for the student pursuant to the Department regulations established pursuant to subsection (d)(4) of this section.

The Department shall require that a district retain a student whose performance on the mathematics assessment administered pursuant to subsection (b) of § 151 of this subchapter is below or far below grade level proficiency at his or her current grade level or place the student in a program such as a readiness academy specifically designed to improve the student to a level of proficiency sufficient for entry to ninth grade (but not those students whose performance approaches but does not meet grade level proficiency); provided, however, that the student may be promoted to the next grade level if he or she demonstrates a proficient level of performance on the assessment or a Department of Education-approved alternative subsequent to participation in a summer remedial program and prior to the commencement of the next school year or if the student has previously been retained for two years because of inadequate academic performance. With respect to a student whose performance continues to be deficient after completion of the high school preparation year or a student who has previously been retained for two years because of inadequate academic performance, the Department shall not require that the student's district retain the student at grade level for another year, but shall require that the district develop an individual improvement plan pursuant to Department regulations. The Department regulations shall require that each individual improvement plan identify the course of study for the student and the academic improvement activities the student must undertake in order to improve the student's performance to a proficiency level necessary to obtain a Delaware State High School Diploma. Such activities may include mandatory participation in summer school, extra instruction, and mentoring programs.

(5) The objective of the reading remediation services required under this section shall be to accelerate the student's achievement to grade level proficiency in reading so that the student may rejoin his or her original grade cohort when the student can succeed academically in that cohort. Therefore, with respect to a student who has been retained at grade level because he or she has not achieved sufficient proficiency in reading but who has achieved grade level proficiency in another core academic subject, the student's school shall provide a course of study in that subject for the student designed to help the student continue to progress at grade level proficiency in that subject.

(6) The Department may require school districts to undertake academic improvement activities with respect to students whose performance is inadequate to demonstrate grade level proficiency on an assessment pursuant to subsection (b) of § 151 of this subchapter. Such activities' may include mandatory participation in summer school, extra instruction or mentoring programs. The Department shall also require that students whose performance is deficient on an assessment pursuant to subsection (b) of § 151 of this subchapter demonstrate proficiency on such assessment before being permitted to take the assessment at the next state testing level in that subject.

(e)(1) The Department shall identify and certify alternative assessments to determine whether students have reached the same proficient level of performance as is required on the reading and mathematics assessments administered pursuant to § 151(h) of this subchapter. Any alternative assessment shall be equally rigorous, valid, and reliable as the assessments administered pursuant to § 151(b) of this subchapter Approval of any alternative assessment by the Department shall require the joint approval of the Secretary and the State Board of Education who shall issue written findings supporting the Department's decision to approve an alternative assessment. Nothing contained in this subsection shall prevent an individual school district, with approval of the Department, from establishing alternative assessments to determine whether students have reached the same proficient level of performance required on the reading and mathematics assessments administered pursuant to § 151(b) of this subchapter. Any alternative assessments proposed by an individual district shall, prior to approval, be found by the Department to be equally rigorous, valid, and reliable as the assessments administered pursuant to § 151 (b) of this title. Approval of any alternative assessment by the Department shall require the joint approval of the Secretary and the State Board of Education, who shall issue written findings supporting the Department's decision to approve an alternative assessment. Any district that receives such approval shall provide such continuing evidence of the alternative assessment's reliability and validity as the Secretary and State Board of Education shall require to ensure compliance with this subchapter.

(2) The Department shall provide local school districts with standards-based assessment items which can be used by teachers to evaluate whether students in grades at which the assessments pursuant to *151 of this subchapter are not administered arc making satisfactory progress toward meeting the level of proficiency which will be expected of them at the next state testing level. Local school districts are also encouraged to develop and administer such standards-based assessments and to identify students who need to undertake academic improvement activities at the earliest practicable time in their school careers so that students have the optimum opportunity to improve their performance to grade level and so as to minimize mandatory academic improvement activities pursuant to this subchapter.

(f) School districts may require any student to participate in academic improvement activities specified for the student by the district in accordance with the Department rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to this section or in accordance with the district's own policies. A student who refuses to comply with a district requirement for participation in academic improvement activities shall be subject to the same disciplinary actions as for other acts of absenteeism or truancy.

() Notwithstanding subsection (c) of this section, the Department shall develop specific regulations to provide appropriate accommodations for administering the statewide assessment to students with disabilities to address the academic improvement activities which shall be required of students with disabilities whose performance on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter is inadequate to demonstrate grade level proficiency. The regulations shall, as far as practicable, implement the intent of subsection (c) of this section while recognizing the special needs of students with disabilities.

(a) The Department shall promulgate rules and regulations to ensure the proper administration of the assessment pursuant to § 151 of this subchapter. Such rules and regulations shall ensure that assessments are administered in accordance with, security procedures which guarantee the validity of the results of such assessments.

(b) The Department shall promulgate rules and regulations to implement this section.

§ 154. School Accountability For Academic Performance.

(a) The Department shall create an accreditation program to provide the public with objective information about the academic performance of all Delaware public schools through the School Profiles required by §124A of this title to recognize public schools whose student bodies demonstrate a superior level of academic performance, or superior improvement in academic performance, on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter, and to improve and hold accountable those schools whose student bodies continually demonstrate a deficient level of academic performance on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter.

() The Department shall establish criteria for the determination of whether a school is eligible for recognition for superior performance, or subject to improvement and accountability activities pursuant to this section. For the purposes of this section, a school may be defined as an aggregate of grade levels or, an actual facility. The Department regulations setting forth such criteria shall:

(1) Utilize the collective performance of all students tested in each grade on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter to create a composite score for each school in the State. Such composite score shall be computed as follows;

Composite Score = 25 [(Reading Score x Reading Weight) +

(Writing Score x Writing Weight) +

(Math Score x Math Weight) +

(Science Score x Science Weight)

( Social Studies Score x Social Studies Weight)]

Reading Score -- (5 x % of students performing at the fifth level in reading)+

(4 x % of students performing at the fourth level in reading)+

(3 x % of students performing at the third level in reading) +

(2 x % of students performing at the second level in reading) +

(I x % of students performing at the first level in reading) +

(0 x % of students eligible for the test that did not take the test)

The other subject area scores shall be computed similarly to the extent that performance levels are reported for students in those subject areas. The subject area weights shall be determined pursuant to subsection (b)(2) below. in all cases, the weights given to subject areas shall sum to 100%. The Department shall establish regulations to ensure that schools require all eligible students to take such assessments, and to develop an equitable composite scoring system for schools with students at two state assessment grades.

(2) Determine the weight to be given each subject, tested by the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter. To the extent practicable, the weights given to subjects shall reflect the emphasis placed on academic subjects by § 153 of this subchapter and shall reflect the fact that the assessments in science and social studies will not begin to be administered until the 19981999 school year.

(3) Utilize the quantitative measurement computed pursuant to subsection anti 1 above, to clearly identify:

a. The absolute performance of the school's student body on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter ("absolute performance"); and

b. The school's record of improving the absolute performance of the school's student body on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections ib I and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter over time ("improvement performance"): and

c. The school's record in improving the performance of students at lower levels of academic achievement on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter ("distributional performance").

(4) Utilize the quantitative measurement computed pursuant to subsection (b)(1) above to determine the base line for evaluating schools, which in no event shall be based on less than a two school year average of data on the assessments administered pursuant to subsection (b) of § 151 of this subchapter.

(c) The Department shall develop a program to commence during fiscal year 2002 to recognize the performance of schools whose student bodies demonstrate superior absolute performance, superior improvement performance, and superior distributional performance. Such program shall, to the extent of available appropriations, include recognition of schools through the School Profiles published pursuant to §124A of this title; special ceremonies; the award of plaques or flags; and monetary awards. Biennial monetary awards in the amount of $250.00 per Division I unit shall be made available to those schools which demonstrate superior absolute performance, improvement performance, or distributional performance. Schools shall be informed of what level of performance will be sufficient to demonstrate superior performance and thereby entitle a school to receive a monetary award. The awards program shall be established in the annual appropriation act in fiscal year 2000 and appropriations for such purpose shall be made in the annual appropriations act beginning with the fiscal year 2002 act. Monetary awards may be used for any school improvement purpose; provided, however, that the use of any school award shall be determined by a school-based committee comprised of school administrators, teachers, other staff, parents, and students. To the extent that a school has a shared decision-making committee

established pursuant to chapter 8 of this title, such committee shall determine the use of any monetary awards pursuant to this section.

(d) The Department shall develop a program to improve and hold accountable schools whose student bodies demonstrate deficient absolute performance or whose students bodies' academic performance are in serious decline. The Department shall consider absolute performance. improvement performance, and distributional performance; provided, however. that the Department may require improvement and accountability activities by a school with a seriously deficient level of absolute performance regardless of the school's improvement performance and distributional performance.

(1) Award winning schools and schools not meeting the criteria for actions specified in subsections (d)(2), (3) and (4) below, shall receive full accreditation from the Department of Education as "superior accredited" and "accredited" respectively.

(0) Schools with deficient levels of performance shall be required to undertake improvement and accountability activities, shall be classified by the Department as on -accreditation watch" in the School Profiles published pursuant to §)24A of this title, and shall be required to develop a school improvement plan which must be approved by the local board of education al a public meeting, To the extent that the school does not have a shared decision-making committee pursuant to chapter 8 of this title, the school shall create such a committee to develop and help implement the school improvement plan. Local boards of education shall provide the public with access to any proposed school improvement plan at least thirty days before the plan is considered for approval by the local board, Subject to resources available for such purpose, the Department of Education shall, upon request, provide technical and/or financial assistance to schools developing and Implementing school improvement plans pursuant to this subsection; provided, however, that the school's local district shall match slate expenditures for such purposes. The local share ratio shall be computed by multiplying the school district ability index for the school district, or in the case of vocational schools or special schools, the countywide ability index, as defined in *1707 of Title 14, by .40; provided, however, that the product shall not exceed .40 for any school district.

(0) The performance of a school on accreditation watch shall be reevaluated by the Department at the end of each school year subsequent to the school's placement on accreditation watch. A school which fails to demonstrate sufficient improvement after two years on accreditation watch shall be classified as "non-accredited" in the School Profiles published pursuant to §124A of this title and shall be required to implement a revised school improvement plan to be developed by the district administration and to be adopted by the local board of education at a public meeting held for that purpose.

a.. Such school improvement plan shall address specific criteria, including, but not limited to:

(i) Subject to compliance with state and district minimum requirements, the curriculum to be used at the school;

(ii) Within the limit of the Division I units generated by the school's annual official unit count and the district's federal Title I and Comprehensive School Discipline Program funding, the plan for the assignment of instructional and non-instructional staff within the school to the extent that such assignments do not conflict with existing collective bargaining agreements. Such assignment plan may include a plan for the appropriate number and type of specialists (such as guidance counselors, librarians, federal Title I teachers), classroom teachers, and instructional aides necessary to meet the needs of the school's students and may include an identification of the duties and responsibilities of all school staff. To the extent the school has not been allocated its pro rata share of Division I and Academic Excellence units, the school board shall set forth the basis for withholding such units from the school;

(iii) The assignment of students to classes and programs within the school;

(iv) A plan for staff and professional development that will support the school's achievement of state and local academic standards;

(v) Within the limit of the district's state and local instructional supplies and materials budget, the classroom textbooks and materials necessary for the implementation of a curriculum designed to help students meet state and local academic achievement standards. To the extent the school has not been allocated its pro rata share of such funding, the school board shall set forth the basis for withholding such units from the school.,

(vi) Policies and practices designed to promote parental and community involvement in the school;

(vii) The academic improvement activities necessary to enable students to meet high academic standards in the core subjects of English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, and help students at-risk of academic failure to succeed, including summer school, extra instruction, Saturdays or extended day programs, or mentoring programs;

(viii) The school's discipline and school climate plan, consistent with state and district requirements. If the school has a Discipline Committee, pursuant to § 1605(7) of this title, its school improvement plan must incorporate the school's discipline and school climate plan and its plans for addressing the criteria set forth in § 1605(7) of this title;

(ix) A plan for using data from the Delaware State Testing Program and other local assessment measures to develop academic improvement strategies in the areas of curriculum scope and sequence, class and school activities, and instructional delivery;

(x) A plan for the implementation and management of an integrated information system which enables teachers, parents, administrators, and students to track the progress of students on a regular basis; and

(xi) Any proposed waivers of state and district regulations or policies which the school district believes impede the accomplishment of the student academic achievement standards set by the State. With respect to an individual school, the Department of Education may suggest that additional criteria be addressed by the school improvement plan. If the plan does not address such criteria, the plan shall explain the reasons for not addressing the additional criteria.

b. The local board of education shall provide the Secretary of Education with a copy of a school improvement plan it intends to consider at least 45 days before the plan is considered for approval by the local board so that the Secretary of Education may provide the local board of education with his or her recommendations regarding the proposed plan, which may include public recommendations that the school's administration or staff be replaced or reassigned. At such time, the local board of education shall also make copies of the plan available to the public so as to provide members of the public with an opportunity to share their comments with the local board.

(4) If a school fails to demonstrate sufficient improvement after two years in non-accredited status, the Secretary of Education shall investigate the reasons for the continued deficiency of the school's performance and may request that the State Board of Education hold public hearings to assist in that investigation. Thereafter, the Secretary shall make recommendations for improving the school, which may include public recommendations that the school's administration, staff, and school-based committee be

replaced and/or reassigned or that the local board of education change its practices as it relates to this school.

(e) The Department shall promulgate rules and regulations to implement this section. Such rules and regulations shall specify the procedures by which, consistent with § 121(12) of this title, a school may appeal its accreditation classification; provided, however, that any such rule or regulation shall require that a school challenging its classification prove by clear and convincing cadence that the classification assigned to it by the Department was contrary to law or regulation, was not supported by substantial evidence, or was arbitrary or capricious, or should he changed because of other extraordinary mitigating circumstances beyond the school's control.

155. School District and School Board Accountability for Academic Performance.

(a) The Department shall create a program to provide the public with objective information about the academic performance of all Delaware public school districts by publishing District Profiles which shall be disseminated along with the School Profiles required by $I 24A of this title (hereinafter in this Section, "District Profiles"), to recognize public school districts whose schools demonstrate a superior level of academic performance on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter, and to improve and hold accountable those school districts whose schools demonstrate a deficient level of academic performance on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter.

() The Department shall establish the criteria for the determination of whether a school district is subject to recognition for superior performance pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or to improvement and accountability activities pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. the Department regulations setting forth such criteria shall consider the performance of district schools pursuant to § 154 of this subchapter and shall further consider the average grade of district students demonstrating proficient levels of performance on the assessments administered pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of § 151 of this subchapter ("efficiency performance") and the longitudinal performance of a district's students on such assessments over a period to be defined by the Department ("longitudinal performance").

() The Department shall develop a program to recognize the overall performance of school- districts considering the absolute performance, improvement performance, and distributional performance of district schools, and the efficiency and longitudinal performance of the districts. Such well-performing school districts shall receive full accreditation from the Department of Education as "superior accredited". Such program, shall include recognition of the school districts and their boards of education through the District Profiles; special ceremonies; and the award of plaques or flags.

(a) School districts not meeting the criteria for actions specified in subsection (e) shall receive full accreditation from the Department of Education as "accredited".

(b) The Department shall develop a program to improve and hold accountable those school districts with an unacceptable number of schools on accreditation watch or in non-accredited status, or with a seriously deficient efficiency performance or seriously deficient longitudinal performance. Such school districts shall be classified as on "accreditation watch" on the District Profiles and shall be required to develop a district improvement plan which must be approved by the local board of education at a publicly noticed meeting. Local boards of education shall provide the public with access to any proposed district improvement plan at least forty-five days before the plan is approved by the local board. Subject to resources available for such purpose, the Department of Education shall, upon request, provide technical and/or financial assistance to districts developing and implementing district improvement plans pursuant to this subsection; provided, however, that the local district shall match state expenditures for such purposes. The local share ratio shall be computed by multiplying the school district ability index for the school district, or in the case of vocational schools or special schools, the countywide ability index, as defined in §1707 of Title 14, by .40; provided, however, that the product shall not exceed .40 for any school district.

(1) The performance of school districts on accreditation watch shall he reevaluated by the Department at the end of each school year subsequent to the school's placement on accreditation watch. School districts which fail to demonstrate sufficient improvement after two years on accreditation watch shall be classified as "non-accredited" in the District Profiles and shall be required to implement revised district improvement plan to be developed by the staff of the district administration and to he adopted by the local board of education at a publicly noticed meeting held for that purpose.

a. Such school district improvement plan shall address specific criteria including, but not limited to:

(i) Subject to compliance with state minimum requirements, the curriculum to be used in the district's schools, including a specific examination of whether the district's schools are devoting a sufficient number of school hours to instruction in the core academic subjects of English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies;

(ii) Within the limit of the Division I units generated by the district's annual official unit count and the district's federal Title I and Comprehensive School Discipline Program funding, the plan for the assignment of instructional and non-instructional staff within the district. Such assignment plan may include a plan for the appropriate number and type of specialists (such as guidance counselors, librarians, federal Title 1 teachers), classroom teachers, and instructional aides necessary to meet the needs of the district's students. The plan shall include a specific examination of whether the district is devoting a sufficient percentage of the personnel funded by these resources to classroom instruction in the core academic subjects of English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies;

(iii) A plan for staff and professional development which will support the district's achievement of state and local academic standards, and which addresses subjects such as curriculum alignment, instructional effectiveness, leadership for system change, and data-driven decisionmaking;

(iv) Within the limit of the district's state and local instructional supplies and materials budgeting, the classroom textbooks and materials necessary for the implementation of a district curriculum designed to help students meet state and local academic achievement standards. This plan shall include a specific examination of whether the district is devoting a sufficient percentage of such funding to supply high-quality classroom materials for instruction in the core subjects of English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies;

(v) Policies and practices designed to promote parental and community involvement in the school district;

(vi) The academic improvement activities necessary to enable district students to meet high academic standards in the core subjects of English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, and help students at-risk of academic failure to succeed, including summer school, extra instruction, Saturdays or extended day programs, or mentoring programs;

(vii) A plan for using data from the Delaware State Testing Program and other local assessment measures to develop academic improvement strategies in the areas of curriculum scope and sequence, class and school activities, and instructional delivery;

(viii) A plan for the implementation and management of an integrated information system which enables teachers, parents, administrators, and students to track the progress of students on a regular basis; and

(ix) Any proposed waivers of state and district regulations or policies which the school district believes impede the accomplishment of the student academic achievement standards set by the State. With respect to an individual school district, the Department of Education may suggest that additional criteria be addressed by the district improvement plan. If the plan does not address such criteria the plan shall explain the reasons for not addressing the additional criteria.

b. The local board of education shall provide the Secretary of Education with a copy of a school district improvement plan it intends to consider at least 45 days before the meeting at which the board intends to act on the plan so that the Secretary of Education may provide the local board of education with his or her recommendations regarding the proposed plan, which may include public recommendations that the school district's administrative leadership be replaced or reassigned. At such time, the local board of education shall also make copies of the plan available to the public so as to provide members of the public with an opportunity to share their comments with the local board.

(2) If a school district fails to demonstrate sufficient improvement after two years in non-accredited status, the Secretary of Education shall also investigate the reasons for the continued deficiency of the school district's performance and, may request that the State Board of Education hold public hearings to assist in that investigation. Thereafter, the Secretary shall make public his or her recommendations for improving the school district, which may include public recommendations that the school district's administrative leadership be replaced or that the local board of education change its management oversight practices and its educational policies.

(f) The Department shall promulgate rules and regulations to implement this section. Such roles and regulations shall specify the procedures by which, consistent with § 121(12) of this title, a school district may appeal its accreditation classification, provided, however, that any such rule or regulation shall require that a school district challenging its classification prove by clear and convincing evidence that the classification assigned to it by the Department was contrary to law or regulation, was not supported by substantial evidence, or was arbitrary or capricious, or should be changed because of other extraordinary mitigating circumstances beyond the school district's control.

§ 156. Department of Education Accountability for Academic Performance.

(a) An effectively functioning Department of Education should serve as a critical support structure for the entire Public Education system. In order to meet this challenge, the Department shall fully implement its leadership and service missions by committing itself to high standards of quality assurance and quality management practices. In order to ensure that the Department will remain focused on the principles of continuous quality improvement and client service and that it will do so in accordance with recognized national and/or international standards, the Secretary shall commission the Business/Public Education Council and the University of Delaware's Education Research and Development Center, or other similar entities if such entities choose not to perform this task, to conduct and publish an annual customer satisfaction report to determine the level of satisfaction among education constituencies dependent on Department of Education services and policies. Such survey shall seek the views of local school boards, school administrators, teachers, parent organizations, the business community, and other relevant constituencies. To further improve the performance of the Department of Education, the Secretary shall pursue the active involvement of the Business/Public Education Council, or another similar entity if such entity chooses not to perform this task, in reviewing management practices in the Department, such as the Department's success in deregulation, the quality of Department's strategic plan and the Department's success in meeting its strategic objectives, and the quality and cost-effectiveness of the technical assistance provided by the Department to local school districts, and shall commission that Council to produce an annual management review of the Department for public distribution each year commencing in calendar year 1999. The report shall be submitted to the Governor forty-five days before public distribution so that he may take appropriate action based on its recommendations.

(b) The Department shall provide each school and school district high-quality diagnostic data analyzing the specific strengths and weaknesses of student performance within the school district, which is both user-friendly and timely in accordance with the timelines specific in this subchapter for the commencement of school and district improvement activities.

§ 157 . Parental involvement in education, expectations of parents, expectations of schools and school personnel.

(a) There is no adequate substitute for the involvement of a concerned and committed family in the education of a child. The State of Delaware therefore endeavors to encourage parents and families to become involved in the education of their children and to operate a system of public schools which welcomes and fosters such positive involvement by parents and families.

(b) Among the most important elements of effective parental and family involvement in education are: communication -- regular, two-way, meaningful communications between parents and schools; effective parenting skills -- the exercise by parents of good parenting skills for the benefit of their children and the fostering of such skills by public schools; parental involvement in student learning -- parents play an integral role in student learning and emphasize the importance of education, and schools assist parents in these endeavors; volunteerism -- parents are welcomed by schools, and commit themselves to providing support to their children's schools as volunteers; school based decisionmaking -- parents involve themselves in the educational decisionmaking process at the school and district level and are welcomed in that role by schools; collaboration with the community -- parents and schools work together to strengthen the connection between families, schools, and community resources such as non-profit organizations, business, and religious institutions.

(c) The Department of Education shall work with the Delaware State Congress of Parents and Teachers to promulgate and maintain in current form a "Parents' Declaration of Responsibilities" reflecting the elements set forth in subsection (b) and such other elements of effective parental and family involvement as the Department identifies. Such Declaration shall identify responsibilities for parents and families, as well as the responsibilities the public schools have to help parents meet such responsibilities.

(d) The Department of Education shall encourage local school districts and schools to adopt the Parents' Declaration of Responsibilities as local policy and to encourage parents at the beginning of each school year to execute an agreement to commit themselves to carry out, to the best of their abilities, the responsibilities outlined in the Declaration.

§158. State Public Education Assessment and Accountability System Advisory Committee.

(a) There is hereby established a State Public Education Assessment and Accountability System Advisory Committee (hereinafter, the "Accountability Advisory Committee") to provide the Secretary of Education with advice and recommendations with respect to rules and regulations to be promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. The Accountability Advisory Committee shall work with the Secretary to assist in developing any such proposed rules and regulations so that the Secretary's regulatory proposals to the State Board of Education may reflect the input and expertise of Committee members. The Secretary shall consult and work with the Accountability Advisory Committee regularly on issues related to the implementation of this chapter to ensure that policy development benefits from the technical expertise and breadth of viewpoint which a committee comprised of concerned educational stakeholders and professionals can offer.

(b) The Accountability Advisory Committee shall be convened by the Secretary or her designee and shall be comprised of the following members appointed by the Governor to serve at his pleasure: representative of the State Board of Education; a representative of the Delaware Congress of Parents and Teachers; a representative of the Delaware State Education Association; a representative of the Delaware Chief School Officers' Association; a representative of the Delaware Association of School Administrators; a representative of the Delaware School Boards Association; two representatives of the Business Public Education Council; the Chairpersons of the Education Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, or their respective designees; and three public members. With the exception of the legislator members, the Governor shall appoint representative members organizations from among those persons nominated by such organizations to serve and the Governor may request multiple nominations for such positions."

Section 2. Amend Subchapter III, Chapter I, Title 14, Delaware Code to delete the existing title and to insert in lieu thereof the following title "State Public Education Assessment and Accountability System".

Section 3. Amend § 2702(a), Title 14, Delaware Code to insert the words "and to any academic improvement activities which the child is required to attend in conformity with § 153 of this title" between the word "days" and the period "." in the first sentence thereof.

Section 4. Amend § 2702, Title 14, Delaware Code to add a new subsection (e) thereof to read as follows:

"(c) Any day of summer school, any session of after school or Saturday extra instruction, or any session of mentoring which a child is required to attend as an academic improvement activity in conformity with § 153 of this title shall be considered a school day for purposes of this chapter, and for purposes of § 901 of Title 10, § 1103 of Title 11, and § 301 of Title 31 of this Code, or wherever the term school day or its equivalent is used in a provision of this Code designed to minimize or punish truancy."

Section 5. Amend § 152, Title 14, Delaware Code to redesignate the current subsections c, d, and e as d, e, and f, and by inserting a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

"(c) The Department shall identify and certify alternative assessments to determine whether students have reached the same proficient level of performance as is required on the assessments administered pursuant to § 151(b) of this title by the Department for award of a state high school diploma. Any alternative assessment shall be equally rigorous, valid, and reliable as the assessments administered pursuant to § 151(b) of this subchapter. Approval of any alternative assessment by the Department shall require the joint approval of the Secretary and the State Board of Education who shall issue written findings supporting the Department's decision to approve an alternative assessment"

Section 6. Amend § 152(a), Title l4, Delaware Code to add between the second and third sentences the following words to read as follows: "This definition may provide for a weighted average of the results on the assessments pursuant to § 151(b) and (c) of this subchapter which will be satisfactory to demonstrate a satisfactory level of performance to receive a state high school diploma. Such weighted average shall place a higher priority on the assessments pursuant to § 151(b) of this subchapter than those administered pursuant to § 151(c) of this subchapter."

Section 7. The General Assembly recognizes that a comprehensive system of educational accountability must include measures to ensure that education professionals are held accountable for their performance. Recognizing the complexity of implementing a fair system of accountability for professionals (which includes, for purposes of this section, all certificated personnel) and the many components which are necessary to such a system, the Governor and the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the State Board of Education, shall report to the General Assembly on before January 30, 1999 on their progress in developing a plan for a system of professional accountability designed to improve the performance of Delaware's public schools. With respect to those issues not covered by Executive Order Number 49, the Secretary shall consult with the Accountability Advisory Committee established by this Act in developing the plan and shall employ other groups of stakeholders as necessary to address all the subjects in this section. To ensure progress, the Governor and Secretary of Education arc encouraged to attach to the plan the specific legislative and regulatory proposals necessary to implement the plan. With respect to any elements which are not complete as of January 30, 1998, the Governor and Secretary shall identify the progress they have made in addressing those elements and identify a timetable for addressing them. Such plan shall address, but need not be limited to, the following subjects:

a. Professional Standards - - To the extent not already adopted, the plan shall identify when the State will adopt professional standards for Delaware teachers and administrators.

b. Professional Recertification - - The plan shall consider recommendations for and the timetable for the implementation of teacher and administrator recertification requirements linked to Delaware teacher and administrator standards and the continuing completion of relevant, high-quality continuing education and professional development activities. The plan for recertification shall address the connection between continuing education requirements for recertification and for salary credit with a goal of harmonizing those requirements to the extent practicable.

c. Evaluation of Professionals - - The plan shall consider recommendations for and the timetable for the implementation of an improved Delaware Performance Appraisal System. The plan shall address with specificity the role that student performance shall play in the evaluation of performance of professionals, and include measures to ensure that any student performance component is incorporated in a manner which is fair and equitable to professionals. The plan should also address revisions in DPAS necessary to ensure that needs and weaknesses of professionals identified through the evaluation process are addressed by directed professional development. The plan shall also address, in accordance with Executive Order 49, the need for reforms to improve the capacity of local school districts to effectively evaluate the performance of professionals and include recommendations with respect to modifications in the fair dismissal rights afforded to teachers by the Delaware Code including the relationship between such rights and continuing recertification requirements.

d. Professional Development - - The plan shall consider recommendations to improve the salary schedule for teachers and administrators so as to tie remuneration more closely to knowledge, skill, and competency, to provide adequate time for and rewards for relevant, high-quality professional development and continuing education, and to ensure that the salary schedule does not reward professional development and continuing education which is not relevant nor of adequate quality; the identification for local school districts of effective models of high-quality professional development; recommendations to ensure that state salary policies arc consistent with and advance state policies regarding professional development and recertification; recommendations to ensure that state appropriations for professional development and continuing education are used in the most effective manner possible; and recommendations to ensure that the University of Delaware and Delaware State University and other higher education institutions such as Wesley College and Wilmington College offer graduate level degree programs for teachers and administrators which advance state educational goals, which are specifically designed to help Delaware teachers and administrators improve the academic success of their students, schools, and school districts, and which are offered at times and locations accessible to teachers and administrators.

e. Teacher Skills Requirements - - The plan shall consider : recommendations to

increase the number of subject matter majors who teach in middle and high schools, recommendations to enhance the subject matter skills requirements of teachers in middle and high schools; and recommendations to enhance the preservice skills requirements of entering teachers.

f. The plan shall consider recommendations to establish a Professional Standards Board to govern pre-service educator programs, the initial certification and continuing certification of teachers and administrators, professional development of educators, to assure the professional competence of educators, and to resolve complaints brought against educators, or whether such functions shall continue to be performed, in whole or in part, by the Department of Education and the Professional Standards Council.. In developing this part of the plan, the Secretary shall

seek the views of the Accountability Advisory Group, the Professional Standards Council, and the State Board of Education.

(g) Administrator employment practices -- The plan shall consider the issue of employment practices for building level administrators in an environment of school accountability and shared decisionmaking.

Section 8. The Governor, upon advice from his Secretary of Education and Budget Director, shall present at the same time as he submits his proposed Fiscal Year 2000 budget a multi-year plan to fund the provisions of this legislation, including: the student scholarships pursuant to § 153(b) of Title 14; support to loco./ school districts for academic improvement activities pursuant to § 153 of Title 14; monetary awards to well-performing schools pursuant to 154 of Title 14; and school improvement implementation grants pursuant to § 806 of chapter 14 Such plan shall identify the annual appropriations by fiscal year which are necessary to guarantee the effective implementation of this legislation.

Section 9. This Act may be known as the "Educational Accountability Act of 1998".

Section 10. The Department of Education shall promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to implement this Act in an orderly fashion that provides adequate lead time for school districts to align their practices, plans, and policies with the requirements of this Act. Within 150 days after enactment, the Department shall publish a master schedule for the regulations required under this Act which will indicate when anticipated drafts will be available and when State Board of Education consideration of such regulations is anticipated.

Approved July 13, 1998