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In NCLB Waiver Announcement, Ohio State Superintendent Calls 100-Percent Student Passing Goal "Unrealistic"

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Monday, February 27, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Stan Heffner is Ohio's state superintendent of public instruction.

This morning, Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner shared the details of Ohio's request for a waiver from some provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act with school districts, Heffner said in an Ohio Department of Education newsletter.

One of the biggest changes Ohio wants is to get rid of No Child Left Behind's "unrealistic goal" of having all students pass reading and math tests by 2014, Heffner said. Instead, Ohio wants to see improvement among all demographic groups over the next six years.

As we've reported, Ohio is one of many states asking the U.S. Department of Education for permission to be set free from certain parts of the No Child Left Behind Act. Ten states have already received permission, or "No Child Left Behind waivers."

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The changes Heffner outlined in the newsletter sound similar to the contents of an earlier draft of the waiver request. (You can read that draft here.)

Beyond moving away from the goal of having all students pass reading and math tests, the changes Ohio is requesting include:

  • Awarding schools A-F letter grades instead of the current system of labels such as "Excellent" and "Academic Emergency;"
  • Basing reports on the quality of teachers in schools on student performance rather than federal definitions of “highly qualified teachers;”
  • Streamlining school districts' reporting requirements;
  • Loosening restrictions on how school districts that receive federal funds targeted for low-performing schools can use that money; and
  • Reforming the system providing federally funded tutoring to children at low-performing schools, which has been "vulnerable to fraud" in the past.

Heffner said in the departmental newsletter:

As you know, for Ohio to be competitive and for our children to have at least as good a life as we enjoy, our state must move beyond its current system of minimum school standards. This wavier is a major step in that direction and will give us the flexibility under federal law to enact changes already underway in Ohio to meet those higher expectations.

We'll share the actual waiver request -- plus more analysis what it means for Ohio schools -- tomorrow. In the meanwhile, here's Ohio's draft NCLB waiver request.

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