DOE Rejects Washington State’s Last Claim on NCLB Waiver

One last attempt has been made by Washington state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn to convince the US Department of Education (DOE) to allow Washington to be exempt from sending letters to parents notifying them that their child’s school did not make adequate yearly progress.

The letter also includes informing parents that it is their right to transfer their child to a school that is making adequate yearly progress, according to Donna Gordon Blankinship of the Associated Press.  This letter is part of the No Child Left Behind law.

Washington is the first state to be denied a bid for flexibility. While Congress continues to reauthorize the federal framework for US schools, 43 states and the District of Columbia, have been given waivers. Dorn was fairly certain that his letter would not produce the desired effect, but was put under pressure by state citizens and lawmakers to try one more time.

“I wrote the letter so that I could show them that I’m trying to do my part,” Dorn said.

Dorn says that until the legislature changes state law to to require schools to use improvement in state test scores as a part of teacher evaluations, the federal government will not grant the state any waivers from the elements of the federal education law.

He expects 2015 will be one of the longest legislative sessions ever and education will be among the most important and contentious issues, from the Supreme Court order on school funding to teacher evaluations, Dorn said.

“I’m always optimistic. But I think it’s still going to be one of those things that will be negotiated until the very last minute,” Dorn said of the teacher evaluation proposal.

In an article written by Linda Shaw for The Seattle Times, she reports that Washington  has now has lost its control over how it uses part of its share of about $40 million in federal funding.

Even though there are some districts where all the schools are considered to be “failing”in Washington, the DOE says parents should be notified anyway.  Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle says that the letter will include why the school has been graded inadequate, what the school plans to do to improve, and how they, as parents, can get involved to help poorly performing schools.  Schools are rated as inadequate unless every child has passed state reading and math tests.

The public’s knowledge of the No Child Left Behind law has focused on its emphasis on testing, accountability, and teacher quality requirements, but there are other programs included in this law as well:

The Title I program – a program to improve education for disadvantaged students.

The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program – programs to improve teacher and principal to increase student academic achievement.

The Education Technology State Grants program – to support technological programs in elementary and secondary school.

The English Language Acquisition Grants program – a program to assist non-English language-speaking children learn the English language.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program - after school and extended learning time programs.

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools program – promotes the development of good character and citizenship for students.

The Impact Aid program – funding for schools who serve federally-connected students (military, living on Native-American lands, any students who live on federal or federally subsidized land).