No Child Left Behind waiver means changes

Published 8:00 am Sunday, February 26, 2012

Albert Lea Area Schools will see some changes now that Minnesota was granted a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law.

Federal education officials granted waivers to Minnesota and nine other states earlier in February. The biggest change Albert Leans will see is that school choice will no longer be available. Under the law, parents were able to move their child to another school if their current school was underperforming.

“With No Child Left Behind’s emphasis on proficiency it unfairly labeled schools in our community,” Superintendent Mike Funk said. “It made them appear worse than they were.”

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Incoming students will now go to their neighborhood schools and will not be able to transfer. Students who moved to a different school under school choice will not have to go back to their original school but will be allowed to if they want to go to the same school as their sibling.

Funk said that with the waiver, schools will no longer be labeled simply proficient or not proficient, and it will give the district the ability to measure a student’s growth. The No Child Left Behind law called for all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Now Minnesota will have its own way to measure student achievement.

“It will give us the opportunity to really see the impact teachers make,” Funk said.

Funk also said all schools will receive a Multiple Measurement Rating which can then be compared to all other schools in the state. The new measurements are proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rate.

Test results that come out later this spring will be compared to 2011 test rates and a prediction will be made for test results in 2013. Schools will then be measured against that prediction.

Schools will still closely monitor seven sub-groups of children including those who are on the free and reduced lunch program, special education students, English-language learners and students who are Black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian.

Tom Dooher, president of the state teachers’ union Education Minnesota, said the waiver is a good thing.

“We will no longer label our schools as failures based on the misguided criteria of No Child Left Behind,” Dooher said. “Instead we will switch to more realistic assessments based on multiple measures.”