OSSE Requests NCLB Waiver

Dorothy Rowley | , WI Staff Writer | 3/28/2012, 10:23 a.m.

Reilly added that she'd like to see the preservation of municipal schools rather than charter facilities, which would likely take over in the event that a public school fails.

So far, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee have received waivers, and 28 more states - including Virginia and Maryland - have indicated that they're on the same path.

It was more than a year ago when President Barack Obama's administration proposed the sweeping overhaul of NCLB. The restructure would not only encourage states to raise academic performance and end the identification of thousands of schools that were reasonably managed, but still designated as failing; but it would also employ strategies to turn around schools that were in a downward spiral.

Amid widespread criticism that NCLB was too rigid and had labeled too many schools as failures, the Obama administration has also positioned itself to release at least 10 states that had failed to meet NCLB requirements.

OSSE spokesman Brandon Frazier said that the District applied for a waiver for several reasons.

He said what OSSE wants to convey in its waiver is that there are several different ways to measure student performance. Frazier also said that having flexibility with NCLB provides schools latitude to show what they are doing well, to have the opportunity to put their best foot forward and to show growth that's been made over the past 10 years as well as on an annual basis.

"What we're trying to do, is to emphasize what's working and to not have that fall by the wayside at the expense of what isn't," Frazier said. "There are so many different metrics, and NCLB restricts and doesn't really allow schools to show the things that they're doing well."

He used for example, a student who has improved by 10 percent on their year-to-year test scores: "If the metric to NCLB is 20 percent, even if the student has doubled their achievement by NCLB standards, the school has failed," Frazier said. "But we want that recognized as growth that has been implemented to show that actually the school has been doing something right - and to put schools in a position to continue these positive improvements."

Meanwhile, Frazier said OSSE submitted its waiver application on Feb. 28 and that it's being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education.

"We're expecting to hear back by this summer, but it could be at any given moment," he said.