President Barack Obama announced last week that he plans to offer waivers providing relief to the large number of schools that anticipate having trouble meeting high standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.
The law, signed by President George W. Bush in 2002, carries a goal of 100% efficiency in state assessments by 2014 (Wyoming's state assessment being PAWS).
This year's goal was 70%, and it goes up by 10% each year until 2014. Argument against the legislation is that it puts unfair sanctions on schools who don't meet the goals when students who drop out or change schools hurt assessment scores, for example. Ohio and Illinois are just two states who have said they plan to apply for relief from the act.
Sheridan County School District No. 2 Director of Curriculum and Assessment, Tom Sachse, says that their students have consistently scored well in PAWS and met the No Child Left Behind expectations. He doesn't expect that to change in the next few years.
Sachse said the issue of whether or not to apply for relief ultimately lies with the State Department of Education and Superintendent Cindy Hill. Schools can apply for relief through the state, and School District No. 1 discussed the issue at their August board meeting.
The problem that No Child Left Behind presents for School District No. 1 lies in the smaller numbers at Big Horn and Tongue River. It takes 40 out of 200 students not testing proficient to drop SHS to 80% proficiency. Comparatively, as District No. 1 Superintendent Marty Kobza explains, it only takes four out of 20 not testing proficient at BHS or TRHS to significantly hurt scores.
Relief would still require schools to take assessments, and waiver applications, for Wyoming and many other states, could take until 2012 to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education.
School Districts 1 and 2 both have 90% and 100% proficiencies in areas of their PAWS results from last year, and they both work to improve scores each year, not only as a way to avoid sanctions but, for example, to increase college preparedness.
Kobza says No Child Left Behind, when the act began, had lots of discrepancies between states and school districts nationwide and even between schools within a state, but once they get past things like meeting standards, high performing schools can lead the way for all schools in the country.
Listen in to Public Pulse on Monday, October 3 on AM 930 KROE to hear Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill's discussion on the issue.