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New waiver to benefit local corporation

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

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Clay Community Schools (CCS) Superintendent Kimberly Tucker said President Barack Obama's decision to grant a waiver from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law to 10 states will benefit the local corporation.

The 10 states to receive the waiver include Indiana, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

"We are giving 10 states, the first 10 states, the green-light to continue making reforms that are best for them," Obama said during his speech at the White House. "Each of these states has set higher benchmarks for student achievement and come up with better ways to evaluate and support teachers fairly, based on more than just a set of test scores."

During her Superintendent's report, Tucker told those in attendance at the school board meeting she was pleased with the decision.

"The state has convinced the feds that their accountability system with PL221 (Public Law) and A-F (grading scale) is better able to measure achievement based on the Indiana Growth Model," Tucker said. "The other factor is that, (NCLB) was flawed and would have resulted in 80 percent or more of schools being labeled as failing by the 2014 accountability deadline."

Tucker added there will still be stiff sanctions for schools and educators who can't demonstrate increased achievement.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett responded to the waiver via a press release on the Indiana Department of Education's website.

"(NCLB) was a giant step forward for our nation's schools. It brought accountability to a system sorely in need of a structure for driving results," Bennett said. "However, as new advances in measuring student achievement and educator effectiveness have become available, the need for increased flexibility at the state and local level is more apparent than ever."

However the waiver doesn't solve all of the state's educational evaluation and progress problems.

"Indiana's A-F accountability model is not without flaw because its based on a statistical model and in accordance with a bell-shaped curve, which requires that 33 percent of schools must fail to balance the statistical average of high, typical and low growth," Tucker explained. "However, getting out from under the unreasonable restraints of (NCLB) is a start to helping schools to get better and not penalizing them for factors that are a part of their demographic."

In November, The Brazil Times published an article notifying the public that North Clay Middle (NCMS) and East Side Elementary (ESES) schools could be in danger of state intervention in 2012 if a new Indiana Board of Education proposal is passed.

Both schools missed 2011 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and received a D letter grade under Public Law 221, two evaluations determined by the state.

A school's evaluation grade is based on student performance and improvement data from the state's ISTEP+ and End-of-Course assessments (ECAs).

The scores are calculated by examining three categories: Performance (number of students who pass the English and math portions of the ISTEP+, ISTAR or IMAST tests, as well as English 10 and Algebra I ECAs), improvement over a three-year period and AYP status.

According to Tucker, NCMS has struggled in the last several years to maintain achievement growth and missed 2011 AYP.

It lost 3 percent from 74.2 percent pass rate to 71.2 percent and received a D.

ESES has also struggled to increase overall student achievement, and missed AYP.

The school's overall pass percentage was 68.7 percent, with improvement of less than 1 percent. ESES's overall letter grade was a D.

If the new rule is passed, the two schools may be subjected to expedited state sanctions, which could include state takeover.

"Those schools within our corporation who are committed to making a turnaround will benefit (from the waiver) because of the exemptions of NCLB, but they are by no means off the hook," Tucker explained regarding if the possible state legislation would still apply after Obama's waiver.

To read more of Bennett's statement, visit http://www.doe.in.gov/news/tony-bennett-..., or to learn more about the waiver and the IDOE's waiver request visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/tag/n....



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