TEA Waiver Request

There have been many articles in the media about the waiver request that the Texas Education Agency has recently submitted to the Department of Education regarding the No Child Left Behind Act. While there are several different areas of NCLB that TEA is asking for waiver relief, the part that has attracted the most attention is the Adequate Yearly Progress provision.

As we have discussed, this year, around 70% of the districts in the state failed to meet AYP. Since the requirements for AYP increase next year, it is likely that even more districts in the state will fail to meet these standards. Further, in 2014, the standards increase to where anything less than a 100% passing rate on standardized tests will mean that a district does not meet AYP (there are other provisions in NCLB that might allow a district to meet AYP without achieving the 100% passing rate). NCLB imposes certain sanctions on school districts and campuses for not meeting AYP in consecutive years. These sanctions become more and more severe if districts or campuses continue to fall short of meeting AYP requirements.

Last year, EISD did not meet AYP for exceeding the federal 3%. This cap provides that only 3% of students in grades taking a standardized test may take an alternate or modified version of the test. At the same time, the ARD committees must decide on an individual basis what is in the best educational interest of the child. If they decide that an alternate or modified version is best, then that is what we are going to provide. Exceeding the federal cap does not take into consideration how these students performed on their assessments: they are automatically labeled as failing to meet standards.

This year, EISD did not meet AYP for a totally different reason. The 3% cap was corrected; however, that really does not matter. Since we did not meet AYP for two consecutive years, we were moved to Stage 1. Stage 1 is not very punitive in nature and really only requires the district to notify parents and provide additional information and plans in the district improvement plan and the campus improvement plans. The frustrating part is that the reason we missed last year was corrected. It had nothing to do with why we did not meet AYP this year. Yet, the district does not get credit for making these improvements.

Each year, EISD gets a report from TEA called “Performance-Based Monitoring Analysis System”. This report examines several different aspects of the district: career and technology, ESL, special education, and NCLB. On the NCLB report, EISD received a perfect score. Yet, we did not meet AYP standards for NCLB. This serves as a great example of why the waiver is needed for AYP. From one system to another, EISD receives a perfect score and at the same time does not meet AYP.

Adequate Yearly Progress served its purpose in focusing attention on raising achievement for all students. Now, it has outlived its usefulness. What’s the point in a system where you know in advance that more than 70% of the districts in a state will not meet the standards? It’s time to move to the next level and a system that measures true academic progress. While not providing the new system, the waiver does provide a first step. EISD looks forward to the new system.

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