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Short relief is seen for No Child Left Behind targets

July 13, 2012
By John Speer - Editor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

It is not immediately known if the change in Iowa's No Child Left Behind education requirements will directly impact the South Tama School District.

Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass announced the one-year "freeze of the target increases that schools are held to under the federal No Child Left Behind Act" in a news release issued July 2.

The schools which will be affected haven't been determined yet because the Department of Education is still compiling 2011-12 student test scores.

Article Photos

Jason Glass

South Tama was one of 30 school districts in the state listed as "in need of assistance" in 2011, the second year for STC?for this designation.

At that time, the report said STC students are not making sufficient measured progress in reading and math under the federal program guidelines.

When Iowa applied for a waiver from No Child Left Behind in October of last year, the waiver action was endorsed by South Tama Schools Superintendent Carrie Nelson.

Then she told The Chronicle, "Simply stated, there are better ways to assess student learning and define proficiency than the use of a single test and cut score."

Iowa was denied a waiver earlier this year from provisions of No Child Left Behind.

But, with the freeze in place, Glass said, "For one year, this measure will halt the ratcheting up of unrealistic targets and protect some schools from being impacted by the blame-and-shame sanctions of No Child Left Behind."

The Department of Education news release claimed "In the absence of a waiver from No Child Left Behind or full reauthorization of the law, Iowa's targets will continue to increase until schools are held to the unrealistic requirement that 100 percent of students meet grade-level standards in reading and mathematics by 2014. The targets vary by grade level and subject, but in most cases they are now set at about 80 percent and would have increased by about 7 percent had Iowa's request for a one-year target freeze been denied.

The Iowa Department of Education applied on June 27, roughly one week after the U.S. Department of Education turned down Iowa's application for a waiver from certain requirements of No Child Left Behind.

Iowa's waiver application, submitted in February, mapped out a bold accountability system that makes sense for Iowa and emphasizes student growth and progress in addition to proficiency on tests. The Iowa Department of Education also made it clear to the Iowa Legislature this past session that state education policies must be brought in line with waiver requirements for Iowa's application to be successful.

Although the U.S. Department of Education commended Iowa's high-quality proposal, approval wasn't possible because the Iowa Legislature did not provide the Iowa Department of Education the authority to meet waiver requirements relating to educator evaluation.

No Child Left Behind requires public schools and districts to meet AYP targets for the overall student population and for demographic subgroups in grades 3-8 and grade 11. Schools most likely to be labeled as failures under No Child Left Behind are larger schools that serve the most disadvantaged students.

Schools must meet all targets in every student group to meet AYP and must test 95 percent of students in each group. As prescribed under the law, the U.S. Department of Education has put in place regular target increases to ensure schools meet the unrealistic No Child Left Behind requirement that 100 percent of students meet grade-level standards in reading and mathematics by 2014.

Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. With reauthorization of the law nearly four years overdue, President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last August invited states to apply for a waiver in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive state-developed accountability plans.



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