This week, Illinois will apply for an exemption from the most controversial aspect of No Child Left Behind. As Amanda Vinicky reports, that’s because there’s been a delay in the state’s attempt to get out the federal law in its entirety.
Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, schools have to meet benchmarks that climb annually. To make the grade, 92.5% of students this school year will have to do well enough on standardized English and math tests that they’re judged “proficient” in those subjects.
Illinois Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus says the state’s will ask the feds if it can freeze those learning standards to last year’s levels of 85 %.
“It allows them to just focus on the quality of instruction for students and improve academic achievement, but remove that pressure of meeting the escalating targets.”
That pressure is why Illinois in February applied to be freed completely from No Child Left Behind.
The feds have granted waivers to 33 states. But Illinois’ application is delayed because of a dispute over the timing of a new teacher-evaluation program.
The federal government wants it running by the 2014-2015 school year. But Illinois law has it rolling out slowly until 2016-2017.
State Superintendent of Schools Chris Koch wrote in a message that as he has traveled the state “there has been no support to change Illinois law in order to get a federal waiver”. He says while the “unforeseen speed bumps” have “made it frustrating” he thinks the staggered timeline “will benefit Illinois students in the long run. We will be able to learn from mistakes and improve upon the process, rather than trying to roll it out all at once.”
In his message, which is to be posted on the Board of Education’s website, Koch makes no mention of withdrawing its application. In May, Vermont withdrew its application seeking flexibility in carrying out No Child Left Behind.