State loses No Child Left Behind waiver; schools slated to ‘fail’

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OLYMPIA — The federal government announced Thursday it would not renew the Washington state’s waiver of No Child Left Behind requirements, meaning that schools here will no longer be able to use federal funds as they wish.

With the loss of the NCLB waiver, Washington will reenter the federal government education program.  As a result, schools will  lose control of how they spend a portion of their federal funding and many could be declared “failing” and possibly subject to remedies.  

State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn has previously said nearly no school in the state could pass the No Child Left Behind mandates for test scores and all would receive a “fail” grade. This means the loss of flexibility in use of Title 1 Funds — funds used primarily for poor students.

For example, Tacoma Public Schools would have essentially lost how they wanted to spend $1.8 million of Title I funds during the 2013-14 school year. That money was used to fund five preschool and elementary schools, and add additional coaches to the district.

Dorn said the federal government’s revocation of the waiver was not surprising, given the WEA teacher union’s blockade of a bill that would have evaluated teachers in part on students’ performance on tests as a way to measure student growth.

Including student learning growth as a significant factor among the multiple measures used to determine performance levels is important, the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a letter to Dorn. But because the teachers in this state aren’t graded on students’ test performance, Duncan said he needed to revoke the state’s waiver.

Dorn said he agreed with the need to evaluate teachers based on students’ performance.

“Students’ progress should be one of multiple elements in a teacher’s evaluation,” Dorn said. “Unfortunately the teacher’s union felt it was more important to protect their members than agree to the change and pressured the Legislature not to act.”

Gov. Jay Inslee agreed with Dorn, saying the revocation of the waiver could have been avoided if the state legislature acted last session. Now, teachers and students will face the consequences.

“Loss of that funding means those districts now face potential impacts that could include laying off some of Washington’s tremendous teachers or cutting back on programs that serve at-risk students,” Inslee said.

The NCLB Act was signed in 2001 by President George W. Bush supporting a standards-based approach to education reform. The act grants and distributes Title I Funds, federal funds for poor and disadvantaged students.

Washington is the first state in the country to lose its waiver on NCLB evaluation.

Dorn said it’s important the Legislature acts when it reconvenes next January to include rules that would measure teacher evaluation in line with student’s performance. Or else, Dorn said, the state would continue to lose discretion on how to spend federal funding.


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  • Slam1263

    The State spends $8,000,000,000 per year on schools.

    They are losing $40,000,000, or .5%.

    They may have to cut teachers? Schools? Coaches?

    Hold on to your hats, I'm going to state that I may agree with the Unions on this one. There are way too many people on the administration side.

  • ShadowWalker59

    Well, they've dumbed down most schools with this no child left behind thing, now may they can just move on, and let the ones that fail……………………….fail!! If they cannot or do not, do the assigned work, then they fail………pretty darned simple I would say. Don't pass the child just for the sake of 'passing' him/her. Children learn at different levels, and that's the way it is. If a child can't keep up or doesn't possess the skills to pass with the rest of their classmates, then they fail………it happened when we were kids, and life was really better for it, in that the ones who worked to pass their grades moved on, and if you didn't…… failed, it's just that simple. It didn't take much more than one failure most of the time, to 'motivate' most children AND their parents, to work and do better.

  • D-min

    Obviously none of you have ever read that NCLB. This will hurt not just the income for a school but also the students and parents. If a school fails two years in a row then they are re-staffed from the principle to the janitors. Both year has and staff are all fired. In the rest of the time if the school fails you the parent can remove your student a the school has to bus that kid to where you want.
    No matter what you think, why would you ever let a politician decide how your child is educated?