Friday, July 29, 2011

State Seeks Waiver from "No Child Left Behind" Program

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 1:04 PM

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In a conference call/press conference Friday with members of the Tennessee media, Governor Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced that the state has applied for a waiver from the NCLB standards for the coming year.

Amplifying on the decision, Huffman advanced the view that the federal program, created under former President George W. Bush, had “outlived its usefulness” and had not been subjected to a re-authorization vote since its creation in 2001.

Huffman was frank to add that, under newly toughened NCLB standards, a majority of Tennessee schools, some 800 of the 1750 or so in the state, have failed to meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) guidelines.

An announcement of the waiver request posted on the Education Department’s website simultaneous with the conference call said this:

The law’s outdated regulations mean that virtually all schools in Tennessee (and the vast majority of schools nationwide) will soon not make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) and will be considered failing under No Child Left Behind.

The law’s definition of adequate yearly progress no longer captures a nuanced view of which schools are in need of additional support and interventions from the state.

Huffman also asserted these points in the conference call and reiterated there the state’s intentions, if the waiver request is approved, to employ the standards of Tennessee's federally supported Race to the Top program “as the central reform model in the state.”

Asked if more Memphis schools, in addition to the four failing ones that were recently designated, would be absorbed by the state’s Achievement School District and co-managed by the state, Huffman confirmed that the list of Memphis Schools in that category was due to expand.

Huffman declined to comment on the ongoing funding dispute between Memphis City Schools and the City of Memphis other than to comment that it had no effect on determining which schools would be ASD-bound.

Haslam said he believed that Tennessee’s request for a waiver from No Child Left Behind oversight was the first by a state but suggested that similar requests would be forthcoming from other states.

The governor said he felt optimistic that the state’s request would be approved by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

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