Obama's Education Secretary In Town To Announce It
By Jeff Cohen
May 29, 2012
Connecticut is one of eight states to be granted a waiver from the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind education law. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, this comes as Governor Dannel Malloy continues to tout his education reform bill that recently passed.
Malloy called this his education session. And while the final product wasn't exactly what he had originally proposed, it did include provisions to improve underperforming schools and districts. It also included a pilot program to expand teacher evaluation programs.
After the prepared remarks were over, Malloy was asked how central that legislation was to getting the federal waiver. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan answered for him.
"I don't think I would have been here if you wouldn't have passed legislation. It was absolutely crucial. Huge step in the right direction."
Duncan was in town to announce that Connecticut and seven other states got the waiver -- which gives more flexibility to spend federal money and avoids having to declare nearly half of the state's public schools as failing.
Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor explained the ways the waiver will make a difference. Most importantly, it will signal a change in how the state assesses its progress. Currently, the focus is on what's called proficiency.
"But students who are coming from much further behind, who may achieve great things in the course of an academic year or years but may not yet make it to that bar, they don't count. And students who are aspiring for more, who are above that bar, who are achieving what we in Connecticut call goal, but is invisible in the current NCLB system who make it beyond to goal and on to advanced, they don't count."
Pryor says that going forward, the progress of those students will count towards satisfying the federal law. Duncan agreed.
"There are literally thousands of poor, disadvantaged black and brown children who are literally invisible under the No Child Left accountability system. And Connecticut has had the courage to say those children will no longer be invisible."
Duncan said the Obama administration would rather rewrite the education law, but that Washington politics make that impossible.