- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 5, 2004

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Education Department may withhold as much as $7 million from President Bush’s home state for failing to tell parents whether schools performed up to standards under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Parents won’t be able to request transfers to move their children from poorly performing schools until the information is released, and the funding may be withheld until then.

“The law states we’re supposed to announce the results before school started and we did not make that deadline,” Debbie Graves Ratcliffe, a Texas Education Agency spokeswoman, told the San Antonio Express-News.

State education officials said they may not have final results until February.

Mrs. Ratcliffe said the school report cards were delayed because federal education officials did not approve the state’s plan for assessing progress until the end of July. Much of Texas’ plan was scrapped because it didn’t meet the law’s requirements.

Under Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, schools must demonstrate year-to-year progress. Students at schools that miss performance benchmarks two years in a row are eligible to transfer to a different school.

State education officials planned to release preliminary data to schools on Nov. 15 and the final list of failing schools on Feb. 23.

Education Department spokeswoman D.J. Nordquist said that’s not good enough.

“It won’t be February,” she said. “We’ve been working with people at the Texas Education Agency and those results will be released before that.”

Mrs. Ratcliffe said talks with federal officials are continuing and state educators hope for a compromise. But state officials say the money the federal government may withhold won’t affect programs at the school or district level.

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