Arguing the No Child Left Behind Act’s increasingly tougher standards mistakenly portray public schools as failing, state education officials have asked for a waiver from the federal law.
The decision to apply by the state board of education comes after the majority of public schools fell short of meeting NCLB’s standards in 2011. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan unveiled the waiver program, which allows states with alternative proposals to ignore portions of the federal law, in the fall.
City Councilman Rob Krupicka, who sits on the Virginia Board of Education, said the decision would streamline school accountability in Virginia by effectively merging the state and federal systems into a single process. It also sets the stage for an overhaul of the state’s accreditation system, he said.
“Right now 96 percent of schools are considered [accredited], but we all know within that 96 percent there are wide ranges of performances as it relates to people of different socioeconomic backgrounds,” Krupicka said. “We need to get our hands around our state accreditation system so we don’t treat all the schools like we’re in Lake Wobegon where everyone is above average.”
Eleven states have received waivers thus far. Virginia joins Maryland and Washington, D.C. in the second round of applications heading to Duncan’s department. A single city public school, Charles Barrett Elementary, met the NCLB standards in 2011.