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Archive for Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kansas to ask for extension and changes to No Child Left Behind waiver

February 12, 2014

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— State education officials said Wednesday they plan to ask the federal government to extend the state's waiver from requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

The waiver, which was granted in 2012, means schools and districts no longer have to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP targets for the percentage of students scoring proficient or better on reading and math tests.

Instead, the state has adopted an entirely different system for holding schools accountable based on several measurements of how well they are helping students improve their academic performance.

Deputy Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander told the Kansas State Board of Education that the waivers were never intended to be a long-term policy. When the Obama administration began offering them in 2011, he said, it was assumed that Congress would eventually pass a bill to overhaul and reauthorize the law, but that has not yet happened.

One of the conditions for receiving the waiver was that Kansas had to agree to other reform measures supported by the Obama administration, including a requirement that all districts adopt new evaluation systems that hold teachers and administrators accountable for student achievement.

Because Kansas has not yet fully implemented the new evaluation system, the U.S. Department of Education last year gave notice that the state was at “high risk” of losing its waiver.

But Neuenswander said he's confident the new evaluation system the state is developing will meet the administration's standards, even though it will take longer than expected to implement.

That's because the evaluations will have to be based on test scores from the yearly reading and math tests the state administers. And because Kansas, along with most other states, is shifting to new curriculum standards and new assessments, it will take until the 2017-2018 academic year before those scores can be used to evaluate teacher performance.

Neuenswander said he expects to submit the application for the waiver extension within the next two months.

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