According to an Associated Press (AP) article in Education Week, Wisconsin’s application to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) may be denied. ED found the state’s proposal for holding schools accountable vague and deficient. ED’s letter to state education officials last month said that a peer review panel found deficiencies in the state’s waiver application.
Doug Harris, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of education and public policy who reviewed the letter, said, “They would have to make major changes of the sort the state has never been willing to make.” State education officials have been working with federal education officials to modify and resubmit the waiver application by the end of the month, said Patrick Gasper, a spokesman with the state Department of Public Instruction. “One letter that’s a month old does not capture where the waiver is today,” said John Johnson, DPI’s Education Information Services director. “This is a long, collaborative process.”
Wisconsin’s application included proposals to rate schools based on student performance, improvement on state tests, progress toward closing the achievement gap and preparation of students for college and careers. Other factors that would influence ratings would include dropout rates and third-grade literacy levels. ED’s letter said Wisconsin had come up with a number of proposals that were commendable, but too short on detail.
State Senator Luther Olsen, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said he had not seen the letter but that it apparently affirms concerns that were raised before the application was submitted. “Folks thought they would do a cursory, general waiver and get it, and at the end of the day it would be pretty hard to be held accountable for it,” he said. “The (U.S. Education) department is not letting Wisconsin get away with that at all.”
Source: Education Week, 5/14/12, By AP
[Editor's Note: In January 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which reported that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction had posted a draft proposal seeking relief from NCLB's mandates. The proposal contained elements that had been talked about in state education circles for months, such as a plan for implementing a school accountability system, and stressed that Wisconsin students would soon be held to a higher standard on annual statewide achievement tests.]