Governor Kitzhaber and Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew today announced that Oregon has received federal approval for its Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility application. With this approval, Oregon will be able to tailor the mechanisms of the ESEA, or No Child Left Behind Act, to create a more accountable and responsive system that meets the needs of Oregon students and strengthens Oregon schools.
"This approval is a victory for our state, our schools, and most importantly our children," said Governor Kitzhaber. "We have rejected the one-size-fits-all mandates of past federal requirements and come together to create a home-grown system of accountability and support that puts us firmly on the path to our 40-40-20 goal of greater educational success for all Oregonians."
Oregon's waiver is the product of months of work by more than a 120 education and community stakeholders from around the state who helped design the new framework for college and career readiness, school accountability and support for educators. The plans described in Oregon's waiver are consistent with broader education efforts, led by the Governor and Dr. Crew, to establish an integrated system of public education from birth through graduate school.
"The waiver builds upon the hard work of the Governor and Legislature in 2011 and 2012 to build a solid foundation for improvement across Oregon," said Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew. "This approval will provide our state with a wider range of tools to support our schools, our districts, and our communities to achieve outcomes our students need and deserve."
Oregon's approved application describes a new model for rating and supporting schools, replacing the Adequate Yearly Progress designations and sanctions of NCLB. To bridge the transition to the new model, an interim system based on the current Oregon Report Card rating system has been developed for the 2011-12 school year. These reports will replace the federal Adequate Yearly Progress reports.
In 2012-13 and beyond, features of the plan to be implemented include:
alignment with new achievement compacts, which describe how each district will improve key student outcomes;
accountability for ensuring underserved students are demonstrating academic growth and graduation rates that allow us to close the state's achievement gap;
emphasis on individual student growth and demonstrations of proficiency in reading and math;
customized support plans designed to help struggling schools better serve all kids; and
collaborative systems of teacher and administrator evaluation designed to improve student outcomes by better supporting professional growth.
Critics of NCLB noted that the law's emphasis on standardized testing and AYP caused schools to narrow curriculum, penalize teachers and schools, and limit focus to getting students over a specific bar. The new system will stress the importance of student growth and more authentic measures of college and career readiness, such as thinking skills and academic behaviors. The state will conduct a pilot to study a teacher evaluation framework that includes measuring teachers' impacts on student learning, but stated its opposition to any system that evaluates teachers based solely on standardized test scores.
Oregon joins 31 other states and the District of Columbia that have received federal flexibility waivers from ESEA mandates. For more on the waiver application process, go to: www.ode.state.or.us/go/nextgen.