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The Obama Administration announced last week that states could apply for a waiver that would excuse their public schools from meeting unrealistic Adequate Yearly Progress goals (AYP) linked to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Good news if your state's waiver request is approved.

 

The requirement that 100 percent of students meet AYP by 2014 is gone. States just need to set ambitious but achievable goals in reading, language arts and mathematics.

The term Failing Schools is replaced with NEA's preferred term Priority Schools. The state and local districts will create their own plan to help students in the Priority Schools ranked int eh bottom 5-10 percent of student performance. Districts no longer have to pick Obama's intervention models or follow the "rule of 9".

Teachers will be evaluated by multiple valid measures including student progress over time and multiple measures of professional practice.

NEA worked closely with Obama's Department of Education to help craft this waiver process. This is not a competitive process, so if your state's waiver meets the criteria it will be approved.

Local bargaining rights are explicitly honored and preserved as states apply for and implement waivers.

Significant questions and concerns still remain.

Is Washington's new evaluation criteria established under HB 6696 aligned with the Obama Administration's expectations on teacher evaluation, so a waiver application from Washington is approved?

SIG schools are still required to meet the expectations of their grants. What happens to those SIG schools if they don't meet student improvement goals and when their funding runs out?

Under these waivers each state must set Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) in reading/language arts and mathematics that are ambitious and achievable. The ultimate goal is for students to reach college- and career-ready standards. The process by which Washington State would create and measure these AMOs creates a long list of questions.