The Federal government granted Wisconsin a waiver from meeting requirements set by the No Child Left Behind Law after state officials proposed their own state-wide improvement plans.
According to a story in the Journal Sentinel:
The green light for Wisconsin's application for a waiver from certain requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law means relief from what many have felt was a punitive system for judging school performance over the past decade. It also means the state is released from meeting a 2014 deadline under the law to have 100 percent of its students proficient in reading and math.
But the waiver also means the state will be setting additional expectations, which school districts will need to meet.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan lauded the waivers, but still called for bipartisan support for the passage of the federal education law, which has been up for reauthorization from Congress since 2007.
"It is a remarkable milestone that in only five months, more than half of the states in the country have adopted state-developed, next-generation education reforms to improve student learning and classroom instruction, while ensuring that resources are targeted to the students that need them most," Duncan said. "A strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act remains the best path forward in education reform, but as 26 states have now demonstrated, our kids can't wait any longer for Congress to act."
Governor Scott Walker released the following statement regarding the announcement of the waiver:
For the past year and a half we have worked with Democrats, Republicans, and a wide variety of education stakeholders to develop systems to help our schools and teachers improve. This waiver puts more power in the hands of Wisconsin’s parents, educators, and elected officials to determine what is best for students in each community.
I am hopeful that Congress will continue to work toward a more permanent refining of the federal government’s role in education.
In the meantime, we must continue to develop a fair and transparent system for evaluating and improving our state’s public, choice, and charter schools. Together we will replicate successful schools while finding ways to improve schools that are not achieving results.
I will continue to work with Superintendent Evers and others with the goal of improving education for students all across Wisconsin.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction presented Wisconsin's Elementary and Secondary Education Act Flexibility Request, which would propose state legislation that would require high school students to take more math and science classes, and red flag schools with high levels of absenteeism and low graduation rates.
“Wisconsin's NCLB waiver is an ambitious education reform package. We are setting higher expectations for students, educators, and schools with a clear focus on our graduates being college and career ready,” according to State Superintendent Tony Evers.
Dennis Wiser, president of the Board, said the NCLB standards were set too high and the district has an improvement plan they are already starting to implement.
“The way NCLB was written, every school in a year or two would be failing,” Wiser said. “The waiver now requires states to implement an improvement plan, which will focus on how we score school districts, but also schools and teachers."
Wiser said the state would require school monitoring through scorecards and revised evaluation procedures for teachers. These are items the school district has already set into motion.
Julian Thomas Elementary will be a test pilot site for the new teacher evaluation tools this fall and Unified already has district-wide scorecards.
However, Wiser believes the state plan is better than NCLB, but when the state and federal government mandate changes every two years, it makes things chaotic, he said.
“The federal NCLB plan did a good job on setting standards, but it didn’t offer a lot of solutions, and these were goals that were guaranteed impossible, so this will be better than that,” Wiser said.