Kentucky is applying for two additional waivers being offered through the U.S. Department of Education from the No Child Left Behind standards. The commonwealth was one of several states that already received waivers from NCLB this year. Those states now have the chance to apply for the additional waivers. One allows states to be exempt from the adequate yearly progress (AYP) standard, which many education professionals say sets unreachable goals for schools, including making 100 percent of students proficient in math and reading by 2014.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with saying that a school or district has made adequate yearly progress, but it was the goals those schools and districts were required to reach that became the issue, not necessarily that designation,” said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.
Gross said she believes the U.S. Department of Education wanted to make certain states were aware that they could be exempt from AYP. The USDE has already approved Kentucky to use its own accountability measures beginning this year after KDE wrote its new assessment plan into the previous waiver. The new plan will measure a school’s progress by using a new comprehensive growth model, including college-and-career standards, said Gross.
The second waiver would give local school districts more control over how Title 1 funding is allocated to persistently low-achieving schools as deemed by NCLB. This funding is traditionally based on a school’s poverty level and must be allocated according to the number of students in the free and reduced lunch program.
“It’s more of an issue for local school districts, this particular waiver, because it will give them the ability to move that federal funding around a little bit to better target schools that they believe are in most need of improvement, rather than just looking at which school has the higher poverty rate,” said Gross.
Some schools may have a greater need despite having a lower poverty rate, and this waiver would give districts the ability to use discretion when delivering Title 1 funds, she said.