OPTING OUT: Iowa Starts Next Phase

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To get the best trained and effective teachers leading the classrooms and the best educated and performing students learning in the classrooms, it is now up to Iowa. Tuesday morning, Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass announced he has asked the federal government for a waiver to opt the state out of former President George W Bush’s No Child Left Behind guidelines. Glass said, “Neither the status quo policy framework or an overly watered-down version of education reform will meet what has been written into Iowa’s NCLB waiver.”

Iowa’s plan would take into account student improvement rather than just a final assessment test score. And all high school juniors would take the ACT or SAT. But other ideas bring skeptics.

ISEA President Chris Bern sent out a statement that said, “At this time, the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) is not signing on in support of Iowa’s application for a waiver to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. While we understand the need to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach to testing and school accountability under NCLB, the ISEA still has questions about the specifics of this application that need to be addressed.

One area of concern for educators is tying student achievement data to teacher evaluations. As frontline professionals, our members need to be at the table when those decisions are made and the state should be cautious when proceeding with this large policy shift.”

Iowa State University Professor Herman Quirmbach, an Ames Democrat and Senate Education Committee Chairman, said, “The education reform package developed by Senate Democrats includes some elements of the Governor’s waiver application. However, we have no interest in supporting some of the risky, unproven proposals contained in this application. It doesn’t make any sense to pass bad state policy in an effort to get a waiver from bad federal policy. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Glass pledged to work with the ISEA and lawmakers as state leaders continue to devise their reform plan. But Glass reminded everyone the legislature must pass the plan this session or he will have to rescind the waiver request. Glass said, “I think there are components of this that we can work with on both sides. But we have to get something passed that’s in alignment with this waiver proposal.”

View Iowa’s request and plan for reform.

 

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