Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna was at the White House this morning as President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan unveiled a new process for states to apply for waivers under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.
Superintendent Luna has not only been supportive of this waiver process, but has been instrumental in the process of developing these waivers, providing his feedback to Secretary Duncan directly. Here’s more information on why Superintendent Luna supports Idaho applying for a waiver.
States have led this process.
Idaho and other states took the lead and helped develop the waiver process at the federal level. As President-Elect of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Superintendent Luna worked with state chiefs across the country to create key principles for the next-generation of accountability systems. These principles now serve as the basis for states to apply for a waiver. In addition, Idaho sent a letter to Secretary Duncan in June informing him that our state would move toward a new system of increased accountability based on academic growth. The U.S. Department of Education is now working to help give states the flexibility they need to do this. This is a symbolic shift of power from the federal government back to the states.
It will mean more accountability for Idaho, not less.
The waiver will mean increased accountability for states, not less. To receive a waiver, Idaho must demonstrate higher academic standards, an accountability system based on academic growth, and educator performance evaluations tied at least in part to student academic growth. Idaho has accomplished all of these through the Students Come First education reform laws. Students Come First is ultimate accountability. Through these laws, Idaho adopted higher academic standards, known as the Common Core State Standards. Idaho is implementing a growth model statewide that will be used in calculating pay-for-performance bonuses for teachers and that districts will use in evaluating teachers and administrators each year. Now, Idaho will use the waiver to move toward an accountability system based on academic growth as well.
Academic growth is a better measure of accountability.
Right now, under the current No Child Left Behind law, Idaho schools are only measured based on proficiency – or how many students can pass a test. Superintendent Luna has urged Congress for years to reauthorize No Child Left Behind to allow states to measure academic growth – how students progress academically in a given school year – because it is a better measure of how a school is serving its student population. Growth measures how students who struggle progress as well as how students who are advanced progress during the course of a year. When NCLB was passed in 2001, states did not have the capability to measure growth. Now we do. The NCLB law was supposed to be reauthorized four years ago to include growth, but Congress has not taken action. Without action from Congress, the waiver will give Idaho the flexibility it needs to create a new system of increased accountability based on academic growth.