SC receives waiver on NCLB provisions

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No Child Left Behind
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South Carolina has recently been granted a waiver on some No Child Left Behind (NCLB) provisions. South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said “This opportunity to request flexibility from parts of No Child Left Behind is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform education in South Carolina,” said Zais.

“Students, parents, and the public will know how schools are performing in a clear and easily understood system of letter grades. Teachers and principals will be fairly evaluated using student outcomes as a component, so they can become the most effective educators possible. In cooperation with Governor Haley, the General Assembly, and the State Board of Education, burdensome statutes can be repealed and regulations reduced that stifle local control.”

Zais released a statement after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently approved South Carolina’s request for flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

South Carolina’s waiver was approved without any conditions.

Zais continued, “Every student deserves a personalized and customized education. The waiver request is the first big step towards that goal. I look forward to starting the implementation of this transformational plan.”

Zais added reauthorization of No Child Left Behind should be a top priority for the next presidential administration.

“Replacing No Child Left Behind with a law reducing the role of the federal government in education policy must be a top priority of the next administration. No Child Left Behind is broken and should have been replaced years ago,” said Zais. “It’s time for Washington to end top-down directives and acknowledge its limited role in setting education policy. The federal government should set clear expectations and measures of accountability, then get out of the way. Accountability and autonomy are two sides of the same coin. If Washington wants to hold states accountable for the results, it should allow states maximum flexibility to affect the outcomes.”

Zais concluded, “I’d like to thank Secretary Duncan for recognizing the transformational opportunity our plan presented. The reviews from the Department of Education and evaluators alike consistently referred to this plan as ‘very strong.’ I hope Washington now recognizes that states can lead the way on delivering better outcomes to parents and students.”

On September 23, 2011, Secretary Duncan announced a process by which states could request flexibility from certain federal requirements. In return for this flexibility, states must agree to four core principles:

· College and career ready expectations for all students

· State-developed differentiated recognition, accountability, and support

· Supporting effective instruction and leadership

· Reducing duplication and unnecessary burden

South Carolina reached an unprecedented level of public engagement compared with other states submitting ESEA waiver requests. All members of the public were encouraged to review and submit comments about the waiver from Dec. 16, 2011 to Feb. 1, 2012. Twenty-two community stakeholder meetings were held throughout January in different parts of the state to present an overview of the waiver and answer questions. Hundreds of public comments were received, reviewed, and incorporated into the waiver request.

Some key components of the request included:

· A new system of federal accountability that awards letter grades to schools and school districts based upon student achievement in English-language Arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and high school graduation rates.

· Increased transparency of student achievement by reporting student subgroup performance.

· The elimination of the all-or-nothing approach of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and giving schools and school districts credit for progress and student growth.

· The establishment of a new educator evaluation system for full implementation in 2014-2015 that incorporates measures of student growth and student achievement as a component.