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Waiverless Washington State Wants Out of Key NCLB Requirement

By Alyson Klein — July 01, 2014 1 min read
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Earlier this year, Washington state became the first to lose its No Child Left Behind Act waiver, which had allowed the Evergreen State to get out of many of the mandates of the outdated law.

The loss of the waiver means the state has to go back to the NCLB law, and its signature yardstick, Adequate Yearly Progress, which calls for all students to be nearing proficiency on state tests by the 2013-14 school year.

Schools that don’t make AYP for more than year have to allow students to transfer to a better performing public in the district, and after two years, they must offer students free tutoring. The system has been widely criticized as an ineffective, one-size-fits-all way to improve struggling schools. Waiver states are allowed to use a more targeted system that calls for deeper interventions at fewer schools, and are having varying degrees of success with that.

Now, Randy Dorn, the state superintendent of public instruction, wants to get out of one the requirements of the older system: Asking schools that don’t make AYP to send letters to parents notifying them of the school’s status. He’s asked the U.S. Department of Education to let Washington state off the hook when it comes to this requirement.

Dorn’s reasoning? Nearly every school in the state won’t make AYP this year, and will therefore have to send a letter. Plus, the whole point of the letters is to allow students to attend a better performing public school in the district, but that choice would be essentially moot if all schools are missing achievement targets.

Plus, there’s the issue of public perception. The letters would “unnecessarily hurt public support for education,” according to a statement released Monday by the Washington Department of Education.

So how many schools in the Evergreen are actually not meeting AYP? We don’t know yet; results come out later this summer.

Washington state hasn’t heard back yet from the feds, the Associated Press reports.