The U.S. Department of Education Friday granted the Alabama Department of Education a waiver from most No Child Left Behind requirements, clearing the way for the ALSDE to implement student performance measures in its Plan 2020 agenda.
The waiver will mean the end of Adequate Year Progress (AYP) reports, a key requirement of No Child Left Behind. AYP is a measure of student proficiency as determined by standardized testing, but critics charged that the approach did a poor job tracking overall growth.
President Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 on releasing states from the law, and began granting waivers in 2011. The Department of Education has asked states winning waivers to develop “college and career ready standards,” a phrase state education officials often invoke in describing Plan 2020. Alabama is the 38th state to receive a waiver.
“We are focused on closing achievement gaps, increasing graduation rates, moving students to proficiency, and making sure our graduates are prepared for college and/or a career without remediation,” said Assistant State Superintendent Melissa Maddox in a statement. “We now have a plan for our state to guide us to this new goal.”
The waiver goes into effect for the 2013-14 school year. The department filed its initial application for the waiver last September, and followed it up with an updated version in May.
At last August’s release of AYP numbers for the 2011-12 school year, State Superintendent Tommy Bice voiced concerns that AYP did not adequately track to academic growth of individual groups of students as they moved through the system — for instance, not tracking a group of students overall progress through an educational system, but comparing third-graders in one year with third-graders in another.
“It’s never made much sense to compare two different groups of students,” Bice said, saying most teachers knew different groups of students have different needs.
Under AYP, state schools would have had to reach 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014.
State officials say Plan 2020 will attempt to track “academic growth of all student subgroups.”
– posted by Brian Lyman