Utah Education Leaders Propose Plan for NCLB Waiver

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, January 27, 2012

Utah education leaders plan to ask the feds to waive many No Child Left Behind requirements for the state in exchange for new school achievement programs and rules regarding teacher evaluations, according to a proposal the State Office of Education released Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Education announced last year that it would offer waivers in exchange for state plans to address college and career readiness for all students, school accountability, teacher evaluation and administrative burdens on schools. The State Office of Education released some of the details of its plan Thursday and is now seeking public comment at http://1.usa.gov/waqOH2.

The waiver, which 27 other states have so far requested, would likely eliminate the NCLB requirement that 100 percent of students test proficient in language arts and math by 2014 — a goal many have criticized over the years as unrealistic. It could also mean more flexibility when it comes to a federally designed system of consequences for Title I schools — which receive federal funding for serving high percentages of students from low-income families — that fail to make enough progress toward that 100 percent goal.

In exchange for waivers, Utah is proposing to implement new labels and programs for Title I schools, based on schools’ scores under the state’s new grading system. For example, the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools in the state could be considered “priority schools” and continue using turnaround strategies they’ve already started. The next lowest-performing 10 percent of Title I schools could be labeled “focus schools” and would receive money to help them make certain reforms. Also, the state’s highest-performing Title I schools could be labeled “reward schools” and be publicly recognized.

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