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September 22, 2014

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Nevada Education Department files for waiver to opt out of No Child Left Behind

The Nevada Department of Education has officially asked to opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In filing for the waiver Tuesday, Nevada joins 25 other states applying in the second round of waiver applications, according to Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault. Ten states from the first round of applications were granted waivers this month.

The deadline to apply for the waiver was extended a week from the original Feb. 21 to allow state education departments time to study the winning applications and make last-minute changes, Rheault said.

If granted by the U.S. Department of Education, Nevada’s waiver would free the state’s schools from the stringent No Child Left Behind Act, which focused on how many students were proficient in math and reading.

Under the federal act enacted in 2001, schools had to demonstrate achievement in 45 categories, such as graduation rates, socioeconomic status and academic achievement among students broken down by ethnicity, special education status, limited English proficiency and those qualifying for free and reduced-priced meals.

Failure to show improvement in any one of the categories automatically resulted in a school’s failure to meet the federal government’s “adequate yearly progress” measure. This bar would be raised annually to meet the federal law’s goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading for every American student by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Educators have long complained that this all-or-nothing policy has become unattainable, and that too many American schools would be deemed “failing” in several years.

Last school year, American schools were supposed to reach 66 percent proficiency in math and 64 percent in reading. The majority of Clark County schools — 61 percent — did not make adequate progress last year. (Standardized tests that determine a school’s “adequate yearly progress” will be administered in March, and results will be announced over the summer).

Nevada plans to replace No Child Left Behind’s “adequate yearly progress” measure with the growth model, which tracks a student’s academic progress over time. The growth model — adopted by 18 states — emphasizes how much a student has improved on tests year over year.

To meet the requirements of the waiver, Nevada adopted a common curriculum standard — the Common Core Standards — in 2010. Nevada received an extension on the waiver application to adopt a new teacher evaluation system. A state-level council will announce recommendations for a new standard to measure teacher effectiveness in June. >

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  1. I hope this isn't an attempt to lower our standards, or admit that we've failed to live up to the federal requirements. Based on what I've heard from teachers, NCLB, in practice, was not effective. Of course, most teachers that I've talked to complain about "teaching to the test", and want to be given more freedom to teach how they feel is best, but it's tough to measure the effectiveness of something like that.

  2. Good riddance. NCLB was an ill-conceived George W. Bush program that suggested achieving the same test scores was all that mattered in every child's education. NCLB failed to recognize the obvious. Just as every child cannot run a race at the same speed, every child also learns at a different rate. What actually matters is academic growth from school year to school year.

  3. Improve LV:

    How do you define education - or more precisely - what is an educated person? It is not simply being able to recite 'facts' or pass standardized tests. It is so much more. That has been my philosophy in education.

    This obsession about data has caused damage to children and the concept of education. Attaching high stakes value on data engendered many egregious elements in education. It has in fact been damaged to a point that reforms are everything else but helping children.

    If the public wants accountability, then it has to involve itself. Public opinion should not be based on what is reported because anything can be 'made up,' especially if high stakes are attached to the results.

    It does take a village to educate a child. So far, the public is akin to a rich parent who provides money to the child, but not his attention and time. The child almost always turn out to be spoiled rotten, if not worse.

    People with solutions are silenced because the status quo must remain so that those in power can keep it.

  4. @improveLV. The waiver will free schools from the all or nothing of NCLB. It does NOT change the graduation requirements for students. Students must have both 22.5 credits and pass all parts of the high school proficiency exam.

  5. Improve LV:

    I know you are concerned about the state of education, especially in this state and you have tried your best to get involved. My comments are mostly directed to those who don't.

    Teachers are under siege. Blaming them is actually ineffective because they are only a very minor part of the whole problem in education. Contrary to what many believe, teachers are mostly very passive. THEY ARE SCARED for their jobs.

    What really needs to be done is TO HOLD ADMINISTRATORS ACCOUNTABLE for bad teachers. It is their responsibility to make them better or fire them. It isn't happening. They simply do the 'lemon dance.' And when teachers have lousy administrators, they simply move to another school. Lousy teachers and administrators stay employed because nobody is making them accountable.

    We need also to hold HIGHER ADMINISTRATORS accountable for the policies they create, the programs they direct us to implement, and the lousy administrators they put in schools.

    And, why isn't the SCHOOL BOARD held accountable for the failure of education?

    Why are teachers only the ones held accountable? We are being bullied because we don't have any power!

    This is where the public needs to get INVOLVED. Blaming teachers is too easy. And, as we are wont to do, we take the easy way.

  6. Adopting the Common Core State Standards has been a great relief for many. It takes a common sense approach to education, that students need to have depth in their understanding, and be most able to transfer and apply what they have learned. In quite a few ways, it is a return to the old school of really knowing what one has learned.

    No Child Left Behind has been a millstone around our necks, because it is impossible to achieve 100% proficiency year after year under that system, and, children that are intellectually and physically challenged have a very tall order to fill with it.

    Even with the Growth Model, there are still the problems with ESL students, transient students, and children who lack home support towards their academic and social success. Teachers continue to face a difficult road with such students and their families. LAWMAKERS failed to put enforcement teeth in the Parent/Teacher/Student Involvement Accord, so every year teachers administer this document that "explains" school expectations of active participation and everyone signs on the dotted line to acknowledge their UNDERSTANDING of this, but not their pledge to perform and there be consequences if the accord is violated. This or any such device needs to be enforceable.

    The BIG question in my mind, is how much must a child suffer before "Educational Neglect" is filed? When some/many students in public schools have a yearly series of excessive absences, behavioral issues/incidents, and struggling to keep up because of all this, WHO is enforcing the Involvement Accord?

    We must view a child's educational experience wholistically, and care for whatever ails them, in order for them to realize academic and social success.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star