No Child Left Behind Flexibility Waiver

It is the right thing to do for students. That is how the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is describing its decision to file for a Flexibility Waiver to No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The WVDE announced on Monday that it will seek a NCLB Flexibility Waiver. The waiver will provide West Virginia with the flexibility needed as it continues to implement the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, expand the Teacher Evaluation Pilot and establish a high-quality accountability system that values individual student academic growth and supports schools.

"We spent a lot of time working with our state Board of Education, teachers, parents and other education experts to determine if filing for the Flexibility Waiver to NCLB was the right thing to do for students," said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. "Without a waiver, West Virginia would be forced to continue to identify schools with inappropriate measures and labels. What we value in our education system is personalized learning. In other words, learning that engages students whether it's the arts, world languages or career technical education, just to name a few. We also value student academic growth."

While the writers of the NCLB had the right goals in mind, the law's one-size-fits-all approach has proven ineffective as a mechanism for accountability and, as a result, has discouraged state efforts to improve student achievement and make progress in education. For example, NCLB provides too simplistic a view of whether schools are meeting children's needs. The way that NCLB measures proficiency is flawed because it fails to account for meaningful progress. NCLB evaluates schools based on whether students meet proficiency without regard to growth or improvement from year to year.

West Virginia fully expects that by 2014 no school in the state will meet the stringent NCLB requirement and therefore be labeled a failing school ultimately at risk of losing much needed federal funding. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has been very clear that any state that does not apply or receive a NCLB waiver will be held fully accountable under NCLB requirements.

"We are already beginning the work to convene educators and other stakeholders to develop the components of the NCLB Flexibility Waiver and we expect to file the waiver by Sept. 6, 2012," added Marple. "Filing for the waiver will allow our state to continue its work on crafting a thoughtful, fair and constructive state accountability system. In addition, we fully expect our state's waiver to align with our state's long-range education priorities and goals."

The new accountability system will

  • focus on assessing both student learning and growth, as well as the learning strategies employed in schools;
  • build capacity in schools and districts to provide evidence of improvement and engage parents and communities as key stakeholders in the improvement process;
  • provide differentiated identification and support systems; and
  • implement data-driven changes in order to improve the learning of all students.

In addition to filing for the Flexibility Request, the WVDE will request from the federal government that the current NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets are frozen for one year so that additional schools are not identified as failing.

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This webpage will be updated as more information becomes available.