Pennsylvania gets federal OK to ignore No Child Left Behind law
By Megan Harris
Published: Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 3:57 p.m.
The Education Department approved Pennsylvania's request to ignore parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law on Tuesday, giving state administrators little time to plan an announcement to teachers, students and parents before school begins this week and next.
The waiver request, among the last filed nationwide, exempts the state's 501 public school districts from the law's unrealistically high standards, including a mandate requiring 100 percent of students to test proficient or above in math and reading by 2014.
Regionally, educators caught the news late in the day between orientations and training sessions.
Heather Hopson, a Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman, and Superintendent Joseph Clapper of the Quaker Valley School District said their staffs would address the issue on Wednesday. Superintendent Patrick J. Mannarino of North Hills School District plans to announce the decision to teachers the same day.
“The more attainable and realistic goals of the new grading system are sure to be well received in North Hills as they will be throughout the state,” spokeswoman Amanda Hartle said.
Carolyn Dumaresq, executive deputy secretary for the state Department of Education, said in July the data educators collect won't change, but how it's reported will.
Under the new system, teachers will supervise small subgroups delineated by skill level instead of race, economic disadvantage, English language skills or special education status. In the waiver, state leaders pledged to improve student performance by 50 percent in the next six years for all students.
Progress is monitored online through a School Performance Profile with easy-to-understand demographics about the school and its surrounding area. Schools and districts will be evaluated on a 100-point scale, which takes into account college and career readiness, graduation and attendance rates, test scores, growth and teacher effectiveness.
This arrives on the cusp of a new educator evaluation system signed into law last year by Gov. Tom Corbett, which aligns teacher performance less with test scores and more with classroom observations, promotion rates, attendance and student performance buildingwide.
“Pennsylvania was late to the party,” said Wythe Keever, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest teacher union. “It's about time (administrators) figured out what parents, teachers and students already knew — a single standardized test score doesn't determine a student's or a teacher's worth.”
Keever stressed the need for funding to maintain the growth Pennsylvania promised to provide.
“It's a lot harder to hit student achievement marks after more than $1.1 billion in budget cuts,” he said.
Pennsylvania is the 41st state to receive a waiver. The department is considering waiver requests from Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Wyoming, Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Congressional action to reauthorize or replace No Child Left Behind, up for renewal since 2007, would require states to overhaul any system to meet national standards. The House passed a rewrite in July. The Senate wrote a competing bill, but a vote on that version has not been set.
The Associated Press contributed.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Benefit planned to help late Washington Twp.police officer’s family
- Fourth quarter sinks Charleroi
- Wreck snarls Interstate
- BVA drops opener, 72-56
- Ex-Cal U student claims sex assault
- Alleged scammer arrested
- PNC plans to do away with tellers
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Monessen falters late, 68-63
- DA will audit Gilpin evidence