Kentucky and Indiana have been granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind standards.
NCLB has been criticized the past few years as having unreachable goals for education. Kentucky and Indiana were among the 11 states that applied for the waiver last fall and 28 more states have announced they plan to seek waiver later this year. In the first round ten states were granted a waiver.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Jefferson County in November to discuss the application with Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who told WFPL last week he felt confident that Kentucky would be granted a waiver.
The state will now be charged with implementing its own accountability system, which the state was been preparing since passing Senate Bill 1 in 2009. The system provides a new model for school growth and will award schools that make a certain amount of progress, said Kentucky Department of Education’s Lisa Gross. The “Unbridled Learning Accountability Model” gives schools credit for meeting broader goals like being college-and-career ready.
“Our system now is going to look at a lot more things that schools are doing. And it won’t be a thumbs up thumbs down. There won’t be this idea of, well you missed this by a fraction of a percentage point and that means you’re not a very good school. That won’t be the case under Kentucky’s model,” Gross said.
When the data is released, schools will be graded on a scale of 1 through 100, which may at first seem confusing, she said.
“And because there’s so much detail behind this one single number that each school gets I think it’s going to be a little bit of a struggle for people to get their heads wrapped around exactly what that number means,” said Gross.
That number will include calculations from all data the department of education is using to measure success, she said.
The Indiana Department of Education is also simplifying the grading system, while expanding the definition of progress.
IDE’s Stephanie Sample said schools will given grades of A through F, which will be defined by test scores, graduation rates and student progress, similar to Kentucky.
“I think it stood out because its such a comprehensive look instead of just a pass/fail snapshot,” she said.
Schools can increase their grades by driving growth in the bottom 25 percent of students. By using the new growth model, Sample said schools will have greater flexibility in meeting adequate standards.
Indiana’s board passed its new system Wednesday, which was in its trial phase last year.