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Feds Want More Details from Waiver Application

Hillel Aron | May 9, 2013

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As Education Week reported last Friday, the nine California school districts collectively known as CORE (California Office to Reform Education) are busy revising their application for a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver.

The initial draft of the waiver application sent in by LAUSD and other districts was given to an anonymous peer review group established by the Federal government.  It’s since been reviewed, though neither CORE nor LAUSD are releasing the details.

For the most part, the review panel wanted more details.

“Our original waiver was written at the 30,000-foot level,” said CORE spokesperson Hilary McLean. “The peer review feedback came back, they wanted it at the 10,000-foot level.”

She added: “We’ll be providing more information about indicators, and the weights given to various aspects of the accountability system. We’ll be providing more information about how districts communicate with each other. We’ll provide more information and detail about how students with disabilities will participate in the system. ”

Other suggested changes, which are outlined in this three-page memo, include changing the assessment level of each school. The original draft had schools getting evaluated based on the last (final) grade at the school site. After getting feedback, the revised waiver application will include student progress from grades 3 through 11.

Not everything about the first draft will be tossed out. One of the main freedoms CORE wants from the federal regulations that currently govern NCLB are, according to Superintendent John Deasy, “a more balanced accountability system that deals with things other than just test scores.”

Much like LAUSD’s new teacher evaluation system, the CORE waiver application wants school ratings to include dropout rates, graduation rates, truancy rates, school disciple and other criteria.

“That’s not likely to change,” Deasy told LA School Report.

While several states made their NCLB waiver application proposals and review sheets available online, the review group’s letter to CORE has not been made publicly available by the Education Department in Washington or the California districts that are applying for the waiver.

Civil rights and reform groups have been divided over the wisdom of providing a waiver to a group of districts, rather than to state education agencies.

Previous posts: Reform Group Splits over Federal Waiver for LAUSDCivil Rights Groups Oppose LAUSD Waiver;  New Concerns About LAUSD WaiverDistrict Waivers Worry State Education Chiefs

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