Sunday, May 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
July 24, 2012
POLK COUNTY -- The manner in which the state measures success in public schools will change this year.
The Obama administration granted Oregon its waiver last week from rules and academic standards in place since 2003 as part of the federal No Child Left Behind act.
Oregon schools will use a new model for rating schools that replaces Adequate Yearly Progress designations and loses some related sanctions, such as low-achieving schools being forced to allow transfers and tutoring.
Oregon was one of seven states to get a NCLB waiver on Thursday. Central School District Superintendent Buzz Brazeau said it's not surprising, given the push toward Gov. John Kitzhaber's education reform plan in 2011.
"We're pleased that it happened," Brazeau said. "We've all been working toward that reality."
One of the biggest criticisms of NCLB was a perceived "one-size-fits-all" approach. Schools were labeled inadequate if even one demographic of students -- limited English, special education -- had low achievement, even if the rest of the student population performed well.
There were also federal funding sanctions and a lofty requirement of all students meeting federal academic benchmarks by 2014.
"Nobody yet has received 100 percent proficiency," said Cory Bradshaw, Dallas School District director of instructional services.
Oregon's flexibility waiver for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly NCLB) will focus on how schools do on state reading and math tests and year-to-year gains in those subjects. Subgroups of students in a school will be graded separately and combined; schools can still be "satisfactory" despite low achievement in a group.
It will also utilize the achievement compacts that K-12 districts and universities adopted and are continuing to develop under Kitzhaber's 40-40-20 plan.
This includes goals for third-grade students in reading and math, high school freshmen on track to graduate, college credits earned while in high school and post-secondary enrollment.
"This will allow us to be more specific in how and where we intervene," Brazeau said. "It will give us clarity in how we attack areas we must improve in."
Oregon's report card will see new labels starting in 2013-14: model, strong, satisfactory, focus or priority. Oregon Department of Education said the new system will more accurately reflect growth.
In the interim, the existing report card methodology will be used to report 2011-12 results this fall, without the AYP score.
One question mark for the changes is a provision for teacher and principal evaluations that are linked to student test scores.
"One way the waiver was approved was there had to be a tie between achievement and evaluation," Bradshaw said. "But it's only one facet, nobody's career is going to stand or fall based just on the performance of a class."
* For more information on Oregon's new education plan, go to www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3475 and click on the executive summary of the ESEA Flexibility Waiver.
For a side-by-side comparison of NCLB with the new ESEA changes: www.oregon.gov/gov/oeib/docs/xcompnclb.pdf?ga=t.