In response to concerns raised by federal regulators, Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD) and eight other school districts have filed an amended application for a waiver from the federal law called “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB), requiring that all students be proficient in English and Math by 2014, reported Barbara Jones of the Los Angeles Daily News today.
The coalition named the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) is seeking an exemption from the two major academic provisions of the George Bush-era NCLB law, which has labeled 500 schools in Los Angeles and thousands more statewide as “failing.”
If approved by US Education (US ED) Secretary Arne Duncan, the waiver would take effect in the fall and would be the first ever granted to a group of districts, which together educate 1.1 million students.
Currently, based on standardized tests, just half of the students in LAUSD are considered proficient in English and only 52% are proficient in math.
Benchmarks in NCLB give the district just one year to raise those totals to 100%.
The waiver would lift that proficiency mandate and also would give districts more freedom in how they can spend about $110 million in federal money now earmarked for improving student achievement at low-income schools.
Rather than using NCLB criteria to gauge a school’s achievement, CORE has proposed its own accountability system, called the “School Quality Improvement Index:”
- 60% of a school’s score would be based on standardized tests and graduation rates
- 20% on absenteeism and suspension rates, and
- 20% on campus “culture and climate.”
“This change was not requested or required by the US Department of Education, but we are absolutely committed to shining a bright light on achievement and support for our traditionally under-served students,” said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
LAUSD is joined in CORE by districts in Long Beach, Fresno, Santa Ana, San Francisco, Sacramento City, Oakland, Clovis and Sanger.
Under CORE’s proposal, the waiver will be extended to any other district or charter operator in California that agrees to follow its plan.
State education officials announced last week they would not make another attempt to get a “No Child” waiver.
California lost its bid in 2012 because it was unwilling to tie student test scores to teacher evaluations, a key requirement of the waiver.
Forty states and the District of Columbia have received waivers from NCLB and 8 other states are awaiting the status of their applications.