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Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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2-9-12 a.m. The Record - NJ, nine other states get waiver for No Child Left Behind Law
The Record “…Cerf had put had put high hopes in getting the waiver, which he said would allow for a much more nuanced way of identifying schools’ strengths and flaws for more pinpointed remedies, especially in the schools that are truly troubled. The waiver application became his blueprint for reform. “They key is not only how we evaluate schools but also the associated interventions we have designed that give greater latitude to our best performing schools..."

The Record - NJ, nine other states get waiver for No Child Left Behind law … “…Cerf had put had put high hopes in getting the waiver, which he said would allow for a much more nuanced way of identifying schools’ strengths and flaws for more pinpointed remedies, especially in the schools that are truly troubled. The waiver application became his blueprint for reform. “They key is not only how we evaluate schools but also the associated interventions we have designed that give greater latitude to our best performing schools,” he said.

 

Thursday, February 9, 2012 Last Updated: Thursday February 9, 2012, 8:58 Am  By Leslie Brody Staff Writer

New Jersey has won its bid for a break from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law, which many critics said unfairly tarnished successful schools with the label of “failing” to make enough progress."

The White House announced Thursday that New Jersey was one of 10 states to win a waiver, and that federal officials would make the announcement shortly.

Reached on his way to Washington, D.C. for an announcement at the White House, Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf said this is “a transformational moment in New Jersey.”

“We have developed a new and considerably more effective and meaningful accountability system that preserves the best features of No Child Left Behind but corrects its deficiencies,” he said.

New Jersey’s plan ends the requirement of determining whether each school made “adequate yearly progress.” Last year, 56 percent of the state’s schools failed to make “AYP,” which happened if just one of 40 student groups – often those with special needs – did not make targets on state tests.

Often officials at high-achieving schools were embarrassed by that stigma.

Cerf had put had put high hopes in getting the waiver, which he said would allow for a much more nuanced way of identifying schools’ strengths and flaws for more pinpointed remedies, especially in the schools that are truly troubled. The waiver application became his blueprint for reform.

“They key is not only how we evaluate schools but also the associated interventions we have designed that give greater latitude to our best performing schools,” he said.

New Jersey sought to divide schools into categories. The bottom 5 percent would be “priority schools”; “focus schools” would include those with major challenges and large achievement gaps; and “reward schools” would get financial bonuses for great results.

The lowest performers would face remedies, such as replacing the principal, dismissing ineffective staff or lengthening school days. In the most extreme cases, the state could close schools or withhold money.

No Child Left Behind required all children to be proficient in math and reading by 2014, a goal many called unrealistic.

Critics of the law also argued it pressured schools to focus on reading and math at the expense of subjects that don’t count for federal ratings. Even many opponents, however, said it was useful for shining a light on gaps among different student groups, such as poor and minorities.

New Jersey was one of the first 11 states to apply for a waiver, but the Education Law Center complained to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan about elements of the Christie administration’s proposal. The center protested that the Christie plan could tap some federal money intended for disadvantaged students and use it instead to reward gains in schools with few at-risk children. The center, which advocates for poor urban children, said the application was too rushed and should get more public vetting.

The other nine states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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