“West Virginia has pulled together a strong, inclusive team of state leaders and educators that succeeded in shaping a strong accountability plan that will benefit all West Virginia children,” Paige said. “I applaud Superintendent Stewart and his entire team for their efforts to make sure no child in West Virginia is left behind.”
Under NCLB's strong accountability provisions, states must describe how they will close the achievement gap and make sure all students, including disadvantaged students, achieve academic proficiency. In addition, they must produce annual state and school district report cards that inform parents and communities about state and school progress. Schools that do not make progress must provide supplemental services such as free tutoring or after-school assistance, take corrective actions and -- if still not making adequate yearly progress after five years -- must make dramatic changes in the way they operate.
West Virginia is the ninth state to gain approval. Other states whose plans have been approved include Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York and Ohio.
No Child Left Behind is the landmark education reform law designed to change the culture of America's schools by closing the achievement gap, offering more flexibility, giving parents more options and teaching students based on what works. Foremost among the four key principles is an insistence on stronger accountability for results. To achieve that, states must develop strong accountability systems or improve those already in place, establish high standards and hold all children to the same standards. They also must provide instruction by highly qualified teachers that results in steady progress and, ultimately, proficiency for all students by the 2013-14 school year.
Secretary Paige recently asserted that the new law aims to correct the “previous and pervasive separate and unequal education systems that taught only some students well while the rest -- mostly poor and mostly minority -- floundered or flunked out.”
All states submitted draft accountability plans to the U.S. Department of Education by the Jan. 31 deadline. Following an initial review and technical assistance, if needed, the next step is on-site peer review of each state's proposed accountability plan. Teams of three or four peer reviewers -- independent, nonfederal education policy, reform or statistical experts -- conduct each peer review. Following a review of the team's consensus report, the department provides feedback to the state and works with the state to resolve any outstanding issues. Ultimately, Paige approves the state plan, as he did today.
To date, 41 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have had peer reviews of their accountability plans. Additionally, senior staff of the U.S. Department of Education have finished meeting with state education officials to discuss the specifics of their plans and their unique challenges and issues.
Despite all the priorities competing for tax dollars, President Bush’s budget boosts federal education funding to $53.1 billion -- an $11 billion increase since the president took office. The president’s budget increases federal education funding for West Virginia to nearly $353 million -- $55 million more than when the president took office, including: more than $141 million to help West Virginia implement the reforms of No Child Left Behind; more than $63.5 million for special education; access to more than $7 million in Reading First funding to ensure that every child in West Virginia learns to read by the third grade; more than $23 million to attract and retain highly qualified teachers in West Virginia classrooms; and more than $4 million for annual assessments so parents in West Virginia will know how well their children are learning and where they need improvement.
West Virginia’s plan will be posted online in the coming days at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/CFP/csas/index.html
For more information about the No Child Left Behind Act, go to http://www.nochildleftbehind.gov