Failing-school letters to go out

August 19, 2014

School districts include retort

Because most Washington school districts don’t have 100 percent of their students passing state math and reading tests, the federal No Child Left Behind law says the districts must send letters to families explaining why.

But the districts don’t have to like it, and 28 school superintendents have jointly written a second letter they will send along with the first, explaining why they think their schools are doing much better than the No Child letters make it seem.

“Some of our state’s and districts’ most successful and highly recognized schools are now being labeled ‘failing’ by an antiquated law that most educators and elected officials — as well as the U.S. Department of Education — acknowledge isn’t working,” the cover letter states.

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Editorial — The kids are (probably) all right

August 19, 2014

Sometime soon, some area parents will get a pair of letters. One is a federally mandated notice informing them their child’s school is failing. The other, likely included in the same envelope, will tell them not to worry about what the first letter says — things are just fine.

The mixed message will undoubtedly confuse some.

Here we are: 2014 was the year that every child in America was supposed to be at grade level standard in math and reading, according to the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The idea was well-meaning, but obviously flawed. While pretty much everyone agrees the law needs revisions, revisions mean Congress needs to get involved. Since Congress can barely agree on the color of the sky, it’s unlikely to see revisions any time soon.

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Federal waiver loss could affect schools

May 20, 2014

Last month’s U.S. Department of Education decision to revoke Washington state’s No Child Left Behind waiver is starting to filter down to school districts and individual buildings.

At the Issaquah School Board’s May 14 meeting, officials discussed the loss of the waiver, which was officially announced April 24. Washington had been one of 43 states with the waiver, allowing it to deviate from NCLB, a nationwide accountability system for public schools that has been in place since 2001.

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Local schools could lose budget flexibility

April 29, 2014

The Issaquah School District is likely to lose some flexibility in budgeting next year.

State officials announced April 24 that Washington would lose a waiver it has been receiving from the federal government which allowed the state flexibility under portions of the No Child Left Behind law.

Under the law, 100 percent of students need to be at their grade level standard in both reading and math by this year. For the past few years, the federal government has granted more than 40 states waivers from the requirement.

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Editorial – Teachers, Dems at fault for waiver loss

April 29, 2014

The impacts of the state losing its No Child Left Behind waiver are unlikely to be profound locally, but they are still an embarrassment — an embarrassment that could easily have been avoided.

Washington, along with 42 other states, was operating under a waiver that allows the state to essentially ignore some portions of the federal law. But that waiver was revoked last week.

We are in this mess because the state teacher’s union and Democrat members of the Legislature were unwilling to allow test scores to be a factor in teacher evaluations.

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Legislature ends with basic education funding unresolved

March 25, 2014

OLYMPIA — House Bill 2797 and Senate Bill 6483 have a lot in common. Both increased funding for K-3 classroom construction, both had bipartisan sponsorship and both failed to reach the governor’s desk.

In McCleary vs. Washington, the state Supreme Court ruled the state was not sufficiently funding basic education. Earlier this year, the court ordered legislators to quicken the pace of funding to meet McCleary obligations — including K-3 class size reductions. According to the National Education Association, Washington state is fourth worst in the nation for classroom sizes.

House Bill 2797 would have sold $700 million in lottery-backed bonds to fund K-3 classroom construction; it passed out of the House 90-7 with bipartisan support. It failed to make it to the Senate floor after State Treasurer Jim McIntire said lottery-backed bonds were too risky.

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