Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting for the waiver . . .

Until I read this Tacoma News Tribune article I had forgotten that our state waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and NCLB was conditional.  Last week OSPI updated the federal education department on the status of the two areas that have held up finalizing the waiver.  The two areas of concern are completing a new teacher and principal evaluation system and completing a school accountability system.  According to OSPI Assistant Superintendent Bob Harmon progress is being made in both areas.

"Both of those are in progress," he said. "They're checking to make sure we are implementing as we said we would and seem satisfied with us at this point."

What is interesting to me and shared in the article are the bills in Olympia intended to change both of these areas before the state is granted a permanent waiver.  One of the bills would change the evaluation model by requiring more weight be given to student test scores.  A separate bill would change the accountability system by giving schools letter grades instead of more general descriptions. Wouldn't it make more sense to implement the changes before making more?  Even though the changes may resonate with the reform minded federal department, wouldn't it make more sense to get the waiver under the drafted guidelines before making more changes?  Once again, we should be focused on providing stability as we implement these mandated programs, not more reforms.

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