LBUSD joins other districts in seeking federal waiver from No Child Left Behind rules

Sean Belk
Staff Writer

The Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) joined eight other California school districts on March 1 by submitting an application for a waiver to be exempt from federal No Child Left Behind accountability rules.
The participating districts are part of the California Office to Reform Education (CORE), and the applications propose to replace the federal rules with a new “higher level of locally driven accountability that will support local districts’ collective efforts to prepare all students for college and careers,” according to a prepared statement from the LBUSD.
The participating districts submitted their bundled CORE Waiver applications to the California State Board of Education for review. Following a state review period, the CORE Waiver applications are to be considered by the U.S. Department of Education.
LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou said the State has three weeks after the waiver was submitted to make comments and recommendations on the application. After the waiver is submitted to the federal government, school officials are hoping for an approval by June in order to be able to implement the new waiver for the new school year, he said.
“We can’t imagine why the State would have an issue with it, but regardless it’s up to the federal government not the State as to whether the waiver is approved,” Eftychiou said, who added that the new system focuses on “true school reform” based on practices rather than “falsely labeling” schools as “failures.” He said the implementation may affect well over 1 million students from the combined school district should the waiver go through, adding that any school district in California would be allowed to do so as well, as long as they agree to accountability measures and “Common Core” standards in the waiver.
“The bar’s actually being set higher here, and we believe it will benefit students and families,” Eftychiou said. “There’s a reason the federal government is allowing these waivers, they’re recognizing No Child Left Behind is in need of an overhaul… Until that overhaul happens, we can’t wait, we need meaningful work and student achievement now… and a more representative system.”
He said the waiver also fits in with Gov. Jerry Brown’s new education funding proposal that aims to give more local control and flexibility to school districts on how they spend their funding.
The CORE Waiver proposal outlines a plan for participating districts to collect and share data far beyond what is necessary for federal accountability purposes, according to a prepared statement. The additional data elements are to be shared so that school districts can work together and share responsibility and accountability for preparing students for college and careers.
To be eligible for the waiver, LBUSD and other participating CORE districts commit to implementing the Common Core State Standards by the 2013-14 school year and transitioning to aligned assessments by the 2014-15 school year. The Common Core Standards are part of a national movement to adopt common standards and assessments for English and math.
LBUSD is also adopting the shared-data system to “strengthen teaching and learning,” working with other CORE districts to identify elements that school officials say will be “common among educator effectiveness and evaluation systems.” Each district is expected to develop these elements individually by the 2013-14 school year and implement them by the 2014-15 school year.
To ensure that schools are succeeding on these measures, LBUSD will participate in a school-support system and professional-learning community with the other CORE districts focused on supporting a “culture of excellence, collaboration and continuous improvement at each school,” according to a statement.
The CORE Waiver proposal is built upon four foundational goals that align to and extend beyond the three principles of the waiver guidelines, including: college and career-ready expectations for all students; focus on collective responsibility, accountability, and action that emphasizes capacity building; the development of intrinsic motivation for change through differentiated recognition, accountability, and support for schools; and focused capacity building for effective instruction and leadership

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