Last week, I had the honor of participating in the announcement of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver process by President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Also, I was honored to participate in a media call after the announcement with Sec. Duncan and Georgia State School Superintendent John Barge.
I applaud President Obama and Sec. Duncan for listening to governors, state superintendents, local superintendents, parents, teachers and students who have asked for NCLB flexibility. While we all would prefer that Congress reauthorize NCLB (currently four years past due), we certainly appreciate the President and Sec. Duncan for allowing states to generate innovation and reform to establish higher levels of performance for students, schools and districts.
For interested readers, the U.S. Department of Education has lots of information concerning the waiver process at www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility. The flexibility and waiver do require states to respond to four major areas – college/career ready standards; differentiated accountability and support; improving instruction and leadership; and state review of regulations to allow local districts flexibility from NCLB requirements.
Thanks to 2009’s Senate Bill 1, Kentucky is in a strong position to address these major areas. For over two years, Kentucky has been engaged in developing a differentiated accountability model based on college/career-ready standards and individual student growth. The staff at the Kentucky Department of Education are working overtime to prepare our waiver application, and we believe that Kentucky has an excellent opportunity to meet the requirements for the waiver.
Our timeline for the waiver application is very short; however, we do not anticipate any problems in meeting the deadline. We have to submit by November 14. We will have a statewide webinar on October 19 and meet either face-to-face or through webinars with all advisory groups. Our final draft will be reviewed by our teacher, principal and superintendent advisory groups in late October, and we will provide a public review of our application prior to submission.
I want to assure readers that the waiver process is not an attempt to lower standards or expectations. It is just the opposite. Senate Bill 1 raised expectations to college and career ready for all students AND proficiency for all students. Our waiver request will push for the innovation and flexibility to meet these increased expectations.
As the President stated in his announcement, we cannot wait another generation to get this right. Our children’s future and the economic future of our state and nation are dependent upon our improvement in getting more graduates ready for college and career.