Today, Arizona received a conditional waiver that will give greater flexibility in meeting the provisions of No Child Left Behind from the US Department of Education. In order to receive this waiver, the state submitted a plan to the US Department of Education that specified how we were going to improve student performance. So what does this mean for parents and teachers?
Arizona is moving towards having an education system that prepares all kids for college and career. The waiver supports the commitment that Arizona made in adopting the Common Core Standards in 2010, which will be fully implemented by 2014. These new standards will make learning more rigorous in grades K-12, with the goal that all students graduate high school prepared for the next step.
The waiver also streamlines Arizona’s accountability system over the next few years to make it less confusing for parents. Right now both the state and the federal government give schools different labels. Right now, the Arizona Department of Education is transitioning from the AZ LEARNS labels (Excelling, Performing, Performing Plus, etc.) to a new A-F letter grade for each school. In addition, the US Department of Education also measures whether schools meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The waiver will help bring the state and federal systems closer together, so a school’s academic progress is easier to understand for parents.
In addition, it helps get rid of some of the red tape for schools, districts, and the Arizona Department of Education. The waiver was conditional because the USDOE has requested two modifications (on the A-F letter grade system and teacher and principal evaluations).
Overall, this is a positive step forward in furthering our commitment to college and career readiness for all of Arizona’s students. To learn more, visit: http://www.azed.gov/eseawaiver/.