For immediate release:
Feb. 15, 2012
Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
State Board of Education supports request for NCLB flexibility
Draft request available for public review and comment
TOPEKA – State Board of Education members demonstrated their support for seeking flexibility from numerous provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation today by voting to endorse submission of such a request by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). KSDE staff members have been working since last October to develop a request to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) that would, among other things, change the way Kansas schools and school districts are held accountable for student performance.
During the State Board’s monthly meeting today, members received an update on the request for flexibility and briefly reviewed the elements in the state’s latest draft of the request. The draft reviewed by the Board today includes revisions to the draft that was originally posted in January for public review. A copy of the revised draft request is now available on the KSDE website (www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=5075) for public review and comment. The request must be submitted to the USDOE by Feb. 28.
Last September, President Obama announced his intent to grant NCLB waivers to states meeting specified criteria. Last week, the administration announced that 10 of the 11 flexibility requests submitted by states last November had been granted, and that work was underway to adjust the request of the 11th state so it could gain approval, as well.
Also last week, the USDOE announced it would allow an additional waiver in the flexibility request that would allow states to forego Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures. The existing legislation requires all states to set annual measures for making AYP based on the percent of students who achieve proficiency on state reading and math assessments. In Kansas’ original draft of the flexibility request, it changed the way the state would measure whether a school or district had met AYP, but still included AYP determinations. The new guidance from USDOE means the state would no longer have to make an AYP determination, however it would still have to establish annual measurable objectives for schools and districts to be used for accountability purposes.
“The difference this waiver would make for schools is that we could just focus on what the data says and where it indicates we’re doing well and where it shows we need to do better,” said Judi Miller, assistant director for Title Programs and Services with KSDE, who has been leading the effort to develop the state’s flexibility request. Miller said a request to seek the additional waiver related to AYP would be added to the state’s draft prior to submission later this month.
Miller summarized for Board members elements of the state’s flexibility request, including how the state would approach accountability measures if its waiver was approved. Under the state plan, schools would no longer be required to demonstrate that all students were proficient in reading and math by 2014, as indicated in the current legislation. Instead, the state would look at multiple measures to determine school performance. Those measures include student achievement on state reading and math assessments, growth over time in student achievement on state assessments and the ability of schools and districts to reduce achievement gaps.
Other elements of the request address how the state would identify and reward high-performing schools, as well as how it would identify and provide technical assistance to low-performing schools. The state’s flexibility request also addresses teacher evaluation, as required by the USDOE. While Kansas is currently piloting a model for teacher and principal evaluation, work is still underway to determine how student achievement measures will be tied to the evaluation process, as required in the waiver criteria. The state must have that plan completed and implemented by the 2014-15 school year.