Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that eight school districts in California were awarded a waiver from some of the most controversial provisions within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind, in exchange for a commitment to implement certain education reforms.
While 39 states and the District of Columbia have been granted ESEA waivers, California has said that, as a state, it will not apply for a waiver. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education announced that school districts in non-waiver states can still apply for a waiver. In California the eight school districts participating in the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) -- Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento City, San Francisco, Santa Ana, and Sanger Unified School Districts – collectively serve more than one million students, representing 17 percent of California’s students.
Because of the waiver, the districts will not have to meet the 100% proficiency deadline in 2014, as NCLB requires, among other requirements that were waived. In exchange, the districts had to explain how they will implement college and career ready standards; adopt new assessments that measure student growth; create a differentiated accountability system; and create new teacher and principal evaluation systems that include measures of student growth. Read past CEC Policy Insider postings here.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, under this waiver, 46,000 more students with disabilities will be included in the districts’ accountability system. This increase is due to the school districts lowering their subgroup size from 100 to 20, meaning that schools with a minimum of 20 students with disabilities – rather than 100 – would now be held accountable for the performance of students with disabilities. According to the Institute for Education Sciences, only 35% of all schools were held accountable for the performance of the disability subgroup in 2008-2009, due to the variance in subgroup size across the states (ranging from 5 in Maryland to 100 in California).
Additionally, as one of the conditions of receiving the waiver, the districts will develop guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation systems, which will determine an educator’s effectiveness based – in significant part – on student growth. According to the Department, these guidelines are now under development and will be adopted December 1, 2013.CEC has developed a Position on Special Education Teacher Evaluation and a complementary toolkit for special/gifted educators to become active participants in these very conversations. CEC encourages every special/gifted educator – in California and throughout the country – to seek out opportunities to become involved in the development of new teacher evaluations. And share with us what is going on in your state/school district by commenting on this blog or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org !