11.23.2011

"Waving" goodbye to NCLB?

Well, Kentucky is really eager to prove that it has the "right stuff" when it comes to transforming/re-forming education, not just for the Commonwealth, but as a model for the nation. Recently Secretary Duncan was in town to provide a keynote address at the annual Middle School Convention. He took the time to meet with Jefferson County Public School leadership, community leaders, and others, address leaders at Shawnee about the progress that the Academy@Shawnee has made since being designated as a persistently failing school under AYP as well as the work it has done under turnaround models. Kentucky has strong support from the Secretary and the Dept. of Ed, often being promoted as a State to watch. In fact in the Secretary's comments about "The Future of Reform in Kentucky" he states:


"But it’s no surprise that Kentucky responded to the challenge of Race to the Top. Kentucky has been a leader in education reform for two decades. By collaborating with courage and commitment, Kentucky’s schools have improved dramatically, as has the achievement of Kentucky’s students.
My message to you today is simple: This is no time to rest on your laurels. For all of your progress, Kentucky and the rest of the nation are falling short of providing the world-class education that every child in America deserves."
But what does all this mean for the parents and students of our communities? It means that Kentucky applied for an NCLB waiver (draft from 10/2011 here) along with eleven other states. It means that if (and it is always a big if, after all Kentucky applied for Race to the top funding, completely changed education with Senate Bill 1 in order to adhere to Rttt stipulations, but still didn't get the funds...but had to go forward with reform and now our students are experiencing new curriculum due to the adoption of the common core state standards)...IF the waiver application is approved there will be changes yet again to our accountability system. 
Thankfully you and I don't have to read through the application (although I have my highlighter and reading glasses ready and instead of watching football I'll be curled up on the couch with a stack of papers) because others have done so for us.  Anne Hyslop of Education Sector has written a great analysis: "The Waiver Wire: Thanksgiving Edition" and Mike Petrilli on the Fordham Institute's website has also taken a look at the waiver's in his article "The future of educational accountability as envisioned by 11 leading states". And even though Kentucky always wants to be "the one," there were other states who applied as well. In fact, you can find their applications in total on the Department of Education's website linked under ESEA Flexibility. So to all my friends who live in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee...it is important to know what your State Department of Education has committed to doing in order to gain the waiver. If their application is accepted, it will impact learning in your school. It might not be an over the top change with flashing neon lights, but there will be a change. 
We also know that for many states change will be happening in the next few years as they roll out new curriculum because of Common Core State Standards adoption. Again, Kentucky has already moved quickly on this, and my children are experiencing those changes in their math and Language Arts classes this year. However, I know that some states have decided to just dip their toes in the water and are still deciding whether to jump in or not. This is the perfect time to ask your State Education Commissioner, Superintendent, Edu-guru, what role PARENTS will be playing in this process. How does your DOE plan to tell YOU about the changes that YOUR students will be experiencing, both with curriculum and assessment. How are teachers being trained/educated? How are administrators? The resources are out there to help communicate to parents what the Common Core are:( ASCD webinars-Common CoreThe Hunt Institute Common Core videos, and Common Core State Standards) but how well your State is communicating that information would be important to know. 
So, as you can see, there will be little napping in my house after the Thanksgiving feast. That's okay, I've said it before, "Education doesn't get a vacation" and in this case, it doesn't get a helping of cranberry sauce either. 

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