Monday, October 24, 2011

NCLB waiver? Or a new law?

Kentucky is quickly developing an application for a waiver to the No Child Left Behind accountability rules.  Our plan will ask to use our new "Unbridled Learning" system of scoring and consequences in place of the current "Adequate Yearly Progress" or "AYP" method.  Though the proposal still needs feedback and another round of revisions, we know it will include commitments to intervention in our lowest achieving schools and to new professional growth and evaluation procedures that include attention to student achievement results.

But what if the waivers never happen?

Last week, the Senate Education Committee reported out the "Harkin-Enzi" bill designed to replace NCLB.  Under that bill, states would not be required to set separate goals for disaggregated subgroups and would not be required to go nearly as far on professional growth and evaluations.  Key players in the Senate are explicitly saying they want to pass the bill this calendar year so that the waiver plans never go into effect.  I'm following these developments through EdWeek's Politics K-12 blog, which often provides several updates a day.

In short, there's a live political process underway that could short-circuit the waiver plans and replace them with new rules that are currently being negotiated in Congress.

For Kentucky students, teachers, parents, and citizens, this means that we really do not know which accountability rules will apply at the end of the current school year.

Fortunately, we do know our overall goals for students.  I'm pretty sure that strong work to meet our new Kentucky Core Academic Standards will pay off no matter which scoring rules apply.

1 comment:

  1. These are, indeed, very interesting times. I have had two opportunities in the past five days to hear the Commissioner talk about KY's NCLB waiver requests and as I understand more and more about "the whole package" I am getting really excited about what the waiver can mean for our future. It appears to me that the Commissioner and his team have addressed and eliminated the most onerous elements of NCLB, namely the "all or nothing" nature of AYP and the untenable and often burdensome consequences that Secretary Duncan recently referred to as "perverse disincentives" for schools and districts. At the same time, there are still very clear and rigorous expectations for all students and for our subpopulations under the comprehensive, more balanced Unbridled Learning system. I, for one, am anxious to move forward under the waiver while fully expecting that ESEA's eventual reauthorization might look a whole lot like KY's waiver. Ever the optimist, I suppose. . . . !


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