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Nevada wins approval to waive No Child Left Behind
by Garrett Valenzuela
Aug 09, 2012 | 4339 views | 4 4 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — Upon receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Education, Nevada will join more than half of the U.S. in waiving the No Child Left Behind Act and adopt a state-developed plan for academic success.

In deferring No Child Left Behind, Nevada will now institute the Nevada School Performance Framework, an accountability system that will allow schools to be monitored more closely than using No Child Left Behind.

Jim Guthrie, state superintendent of public instruction for the Nevada Department of Education, said the prior system did not identify English Language Learning students or some categories of disabled students with the same precision that will be instituted.

“We applaud No Child Left Behind and we were never angry with its policies,” he said. “We have to have accountability in our consciousness and this new system allows us to track students in more fine-tuned gradations.”

Guthrie said Nevada would have been penalized for not meeting certain standards of No Child Left Behind that would have resulted in the loss of federal funding.

The new framework will abide by Common Core State Standards, a curriculum that Guthrie said will train teachers to national standards. The new system also means the institution of advanced expectations, resulting in more fervent classroom strategies in third through eighth grades in math, science, social studies, reading and other courses.

“For instance, for fourth-graders it means you will read more challenging books and math will be intensified a little bit,” Gutherie said. “We want to get them ready for algebra and geometry by the time they reach the seventh and eighth grades. There are a lot higher expectations for what students will be taught and what they will learn than we have ever had before.”

Kristen McNeill, Chief Strategies Officer for the Washoe County School District, said the effects of the waiver approval will be felt immediately with the continuance of the Title I Choice Program. The Choice Program allows students in a Title I (high-poverty) school the opportunity to switch to a school not delegated by the state as needing improvements.

“There will be no new choice schools added this year,” McNeill said. “Some districts are getting rid of their choice program altogether. With this waiver, we are able to offer the Choice Program for one more year and we feel, with school beginning in a couple of weeks, that it is better for families in our district.”

McNeill said WCSD will be able to provide transportation for elementary students who are using the Choice Program this year. Middle school students will still have a “variance” option, but the school will not provide transportation.

Another important factor affecting the WCSD in the waiver approval is the flexibility of funds for Supplemental Education Services, or school tutoring. McNeill said flexibility in this area will cater directly to the needs of students.

“With those funds the district would bring in outside companies for tutoring in certain areas. We no longer have to do that,” she said. “The district will have control over those dollars and we can focus on how to meet the direct needs of the students using those dollars.”

Guthrie said the importance of implementing a plan focusing on enforcing rigorous academics is obvious due to Nevada’s ranking of “last in every category we measure.”

He believes raising the bar in core curriculum provides the best chance for eventual graduates to enter the future workforce.

“We are handicapped here by golden handcuffs of good-paying jobs with low skills,” he said. “That is changing. The service industry is not going to sustain us forever and we want to prepare students for 21st century job market. In order to do that, we have to ratchet up our standards in hopes of it leading to a better life, a better job and, hopefully, a better Nevada.”
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tonysam
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August 12, 2012
RTTT and other forms of federal bribery are actually WORSE than NCLB. Lots of programs in RTTT are designed to undermine what few protections teachers have, including wasting millions of dollars on a "merit pay" program. This despite the fact "merit pay" has NEVER been successful in ANY school district where it has been instituted. That's because education is not a competitive enterprise but a collaborative one. Given how capricious principals are and how inept they are, there would be nothing but backstabbing for crumbs while the kids suffer. But good ol' WCSD, though, wanted that federal money and has several million dollars in grant money to implement a "pilot" program in mostly Title I schools. It's called the TIF grant. Lovely. Well, it creates make-work jobs for administrators who should have been fired from the district but somehow fail up into the central office since lousy principals are NEVER fired. Morrison or somebody who moved these people as coordinators from principalships has a sick sense of humor. Imagine a complete incompetent in charge of a program that will judge how "well" a teacher teaches or a principal "leads" when this person was completely inept himself or herself. It boggles the mind.
NVCondor
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August 10, 2012
Here we go: more new fads to replace the old fads.

How about a return to traditional education. You know, before social promotion, commercial curriculum, and when students, teachers, and parents were all held accountable.

That way we can stop throwing our money away on high priced gurus and consultants and so called, "new" programs and put the money where it belongs, in the classroom.
Mr_Roberts
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August 10, 2012
I completely agree. I see this news report and think, 'Now what?' I am so sick of 'flavor of the month' education policies I could vomit.
tonysam
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August 12, 2012
Absolutely. Think of how many supplies or textbooks or teachers could have been funded with the four million or so for the TIF grant. It's just outrageous the money being thrown into a rathole and is a recipe for failure. But it gives jobs to incompetents in the district who should have been let go.
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