Iowa receives short-term relief from No Child Left Behind targets
DES MOINES, IA – Iowa has received U.S. Department of Education approval for a one-year freeze of the target increases that schools are held to under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass said today.
“I’m grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for its prompt approval of this request, which will temporarily help schools while the Iowa Department of Education continues to seek permanent relief from the unrealistic accountability measures of No Child Left Behind,” Glass said. “For one year, this measure will halt the ratcheting up of unrealistic targets and protect some schools from being impacted by the blame-and-shame sanctions of No Child Left Behind.”
The number of schools impacted by the one-year target freeze isn’t immediately known because the Iowa Department of Education is in the process of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) determinations based on tests taken during the 2011-12 school year.
In the absence of a waiver from No Child Left Behind or full reauthorization of the law, Iowa’s targets will continue to increase until schools are held to the unrealistic requirement that 100 percent of students meet grade-level standards in reading and mathematics by 2014. The targets vary by grade level and subject, but in most cases they are now set at about 80 percent and would have increased by about 7 percent had Iowa’s request for a one-year target freeze been denied.
The Iowa Department of Education applied on June 27, roughly one week after the U.S. Department of Education turned down Iowa’s application for a waiver from certain requirements of No Child Left Behind.
Iowa’s waiver application, submitted in February, mapped out a bold accountability system that makes sense for Iowa and emphasizes student growth and progress in addition to proficiency on tests. The Iowa Department of Education also made it clear to the Iowa Legislature this past session that state education policies must be brought in line with waiver requirements for Iowa’s application to be successful.
Although the U.S. Department of Education commended Iowa’s high-quality proposal, approval wasn’t possible because the Iowa Legislature did not provide the Iowa Department of Education the authority to meet waiver requirements relating to educator evaluation.
No Child Left Behind requires public schools and districts to meet AYP targets for the overall student population and for demographic subgroups in grades 3-8 and grade 11. Schools most likely to be labeled as failures under No Child Left Behind are larger schools that serve the most disadvantaged students.
Schools must meet all targets in every student group to meet AYP and must test 95 percent of students in each group. As prescribed under the law, the U.S. Department of Education has put in place regular target increases to ensure schools meet the unrealistic No Child Left Behind requirement that 100 percent of students meet grade-level standards in reading and mathematics by 2014.
Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. With reauthorization of the law nearly four years overdue, President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last August invited states to apply for a waiver in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive state-developed accountability plans.