Ohio seeks waivers from federal education law

Since
the birth of the No
Child Left Behind Act
more than a decade ago, state and
local education officials have not kept quiet their disdain for the federal
law. So when President Obama announced in September that his administration
would offer states freedom from components of the law it is no surprise that
states around the country jumped on the chance. Ten states (Colorado, Florida,
Georgia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Minnesota,
and Oklahoma) have already been granted waivers from the Obama Administration
with the understanding that they must demonstrate how they will prepare
children for college and careers by setting new academic targets to improve
achievement among all students, reward high-performing schools, and help those
that are falling behind.

Ohio
is one of 26 states, along with the District of Columbia that applied for a
second-round waiver. If approved (and most observers believe it will be), what
will the waiver mean for the Buckeye State? What changes will it bring about in
the coming months and years? The chart below breaks down some of the biggest
changes and outlines what Ohio schools can expect to see under the plan. (Please see chart below)

State
Superintendent Stan Heffner hopes that the proposed changes will result in more
students being prepared for either college or the workforce when they leave high
school and help end the academic disparity among students. According to the
most recent achievement data from the Ohio Department of Education the
graduation gap between white and black students is 24 percentage points, a gap
of 26 percentage points exists between white and black students on the seventh-grade
reading test, and the gap is even larger when looking at fifth-grade math where
37 percentage points separate white and black students.

Ohio
has already implemented numerous reform efforts such as smarter performance and
accountability laws for charter schools, a meaningful teacher evaluation
system, and the adoption of the Common Core State Standards. Yet, the state’s increased
focus on rigorous standards, accountability, and performance will make for a
rough transition, as Heffner warns:
“parents won’t see as many As on school report cards.”

 

Current law under NCLB

Proposed changes

Student proficiency

By 2014, 100 percent of students must be proficient in
reading and math.

Schools will be judged by the progress they make in
closing the achievement gap in academic performance between students of
different races and backgrounds.

School letter grades

Schools
in Ohio are currently ranked on a system that labels schools with
oft-confusing ratings, ranging from Excellent with Distinction to Academic
Emergency.

Schools
will receive a letter grade (A-F) based on four metrics: percent of state
indicators met, Performance Index score (a measure of student achievement), proficiency
and graduation gaps, and value added.

Struggling schools

Students in struggling schools have the opportunity for
additional, outside tutoring.

Ohio would disband the current tutoring program, and schools
could use federal money to extend the school day or school year.

Teacher qualifications

Teachers
must be considered Highly Qualified, a status measured largely on whether
they are licensed in their subject area.

As
part of a larger teacher evaluation system teachers will now be judged on their
effectiveness which includes student performance.

Academic Standards

States must adopt standards in core subjects.

Ohio adopted the Common Core academic standards in English
language arts and math in 2010.

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