July 25, 2006
Mr. Arne Duncan
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools
125 South Clark Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Dear Mr. Duncan:
I am writing to invite Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to continue its participation in the supplemental educational services (SES) pilot for the 2006-07 school year. As you know, this program began in 2005-06 and allowed CPS to provide SES to eligible students although it was a district identified for improvement.
By extending CPS's flexibility agreement, I am using my authority under section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended, to grant CPS eligibility to be a provider of SES to eligible students in Title I schools even though your district has been identified for improvement. My approval of this flexibility agreement for 2006-07 is also conditioned on CPS's fulfilling the conditions detailed in the enclosure, which have been modified slightly from last year's conditions.
In addition, CPS must submit a report under section 9401(e)(1) of the ESEA to the Illinois State Board of Education at the end of the 2006-07 school year that describes the district's provision of SES in Title I schools; describes how those schools continued to provide Title I services to eligible students; and evaluates the progress of the district and schools in improving the quality of instruction and the academic achievement of students. The Illinois State Board of Education must then submit a report to the Department based on CPS's report.
As part of your continuing participation in the SES pilot, we also ask your assistance with the third-party evaluation that we will be conducting of CPS (as well as Boston Public Schools) throughout the summer and into the fall and winter of 2006, as well as your assistance with the evaluation that will take place during 2007, which will evaluate CPS's participation in the pilot during the 2006-07 school year. We will need CPS to supply our evaluator with student achievement data files and other information necessary to conduct an evaluation of the achievement gains of students participating in SES in CPS.
This flexibility agreement continues to serve several important goals: increasing the numbers of students receiving SES; ensuring early notice about SES through multiple venues and extended enrollment windows; allowing external organizations reasonable access to school facilities; and providing information on the academic achievement of students receiving SES. Making this SES pilot a success for all involved, particularly the children receiving the services, will provide the Department with additional important information that will help to ensure the successful implementation of SES in future years. We hope that CPS will be a model of high-quality implementation of SES and, to that end, the Department would like to continue to work in partnership with CPS throughout this year as it implements SES. We ask CPS to share with the Department examples of those practices and strategies that are effective and information on why. The Department would like to learn from the experiences of CPS and disseminate that information to other districts around the country.
This flexibility agreement applies to the provision of SES in Title I schools in Chicago during the 2006-07 school year and is subject to an annual review at the end of the school year.
SES is an important component of NCLB, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that students are accessing services and succeeding in the classroom.
cc: Dr. Randy J. Dunn, State Superintendent of Education