Right on the heels of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s announcement that it might be time to consider, maybe, possibly offering a package of waivers to states on aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act, 40 states and the District of Columbia have announced a new “accountability road map.”
The roadmap has been in the works for a year and a half, long before the department’s announcement. It is basically a list of principles and parameters that state schools chiefs think should be included in accountabilty systems, ideally through the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
These “next-generation” accountability systems would include the establishment of college-and-career-ready standards, the measurement of graduation rates, and a requirement that states help build district and school capacity to turnaround the lowest- performing schools. Schools would be given more detailed feedback than just making or not making progress under the law.
And if Congress doesn’t act, the Council of Chief State School Officers says that states will begin proposing their own, new accountability models based on the roadmap.
The idea is basically to flood the department with a host of waiver requests that all fall along similar lines.
Right now, state waiver requests are “coming from different perspectives”, said Gene Wilhoit, the executive director of CCSSO. “We’re going to come to the department with a set of waviers that will come en masse ... under a [similar] set of principles.”
Kentucky may be the first out of the gate on this. Today, the Bluegrass State asked the feds for permission to substitute its new state accountability system for the federal one.
The Kentucky system, created in 2009 as a follow-up to the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act, is based in part on the Common Core State Standards Initiative. It looks at subjects beyond just reading and math in determining a school’s progress and considers student academic growth, among other factors, in labeling schools.
Wilhoit said that folks should disabuse themselves of the idea that this is an attempt by states to wiggle out of accountability. He said the roadmap would “maintain strong accountability,” which would actually be “at a higher level” than under NCLB.
“There’s tremendous frustration in this field that we’ve about ridden this horse as much as we can ride it,” he said of the current law.