Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says he feels positive about Kentucky’s application to waive federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
Several states will be turning in applications Monday for exemptions from NCLB regulations that many consider outdated and unrealistic. Kentucky was one of the first states to announce its decision to ask the federal government to use its own accountability measures.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Louisville last week and met with Holliday to discuss the state’s application. Duncan expressed some concerns, including parts of NCLB that keep track of low-income and minority student performance, said Holliday.
But Kentucky’s application has addressed those issues, he said.
“We don’t want to lose sight of those. That’s been the big concern and with the waiver process we don’t want to lose sight of the good things about No Child Left Behind which was to focus on all children,” said Holliday.
The state’s application also includes assessments that the state has already begun to implement, like changing the statewide test formerly known as the Kentucky Core Content Test.
Duncan didn’t say whether Kentucky was a likely candidate to be exempt from NCLB last week in Louisville, but he did say the state has been a leader in education reforms for the past 20 years. He also addressed the future of federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) for Persistently Low-Achieving schools.
There are currently three cohorts of Kentucky schools that have been announced as PLA. The first cohort is receiving $500,000 per school for three years. The second cohort received $800,000 per school this year, and next year Kentucky hopes for the same, said Holliday.
However, it’s still unclear whether Congress will continue funding education enough to sustain another $800,000 for the second year, he said.
The third cohort is set to receive only $3 million for all 19 schools, which turns out to be just over $154,000 per school. Holliday said he’s asking Kentucky’s General Assembly to invest another $5 million to give each of the 19 schools $500,000.
Part of Duncan’s message to Kentucky was the limitation of the federal government, which only provides an average of 10 of a schools funding, he said. It’ll be partly up to state and local investments to continue reaching achievement levels, said Duncan.
Holliday seems to think Kentucky is prepared to make that investment and he explained the state’s new accountability measures to Duncan’s staff.
“We explained that to him and worked with his staff and he feel very good very positive about our waiver application going in Monday.”
States will learn if they’re exempt from NCLB in a couple months.