Thursday, December 18, 2014


"There must be some way out of here" said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion", I can't get no relief.” 
                                                          - Bob Dylan:  All Along the Watchtower

By Caitlin Emma from Politico Morning Education |


Dec 18, 2014  ::  WILL LAUSD GET A BREAK? The Education Department said this week [] that states applying for waiver renewals can ask for a year-long pause in school accountability measures while deploying new tests. But that flexibility doesn't apply to one superintendent who wants it: Ramon Cortines of Los Angeles Unified School District. LAUSD is asking state officials for permission [ ] to exclude student test scores from school performance ratings for the coming year while students and teachers get used to new Common Core exams taken online. That would mean a pause in federal accountability reporting, too. LAUSD is part of the California CORE, a coalition of districts that received waivers from parts of No Child Left Behind. But the pause offered by the Education Department this week only applies to states. Typically, when districts are seeking added flexibility, the state has to clear it with the feds for them.

- California just went through a giant accountability pause. Last year, the Education Department granted the Golden State a reprieve while millions of students piloted the new Smarter Balanced exam. This spring, the state is supposed to roll out the test for real, which could prove problematic for LAUSD. The CORE districts could ask for their own accountability pause by proposing an amendment to their waivers, which expire at the end of this school year. But they already have some improvements to make if they want to keep the flexibility. The Education Department placed [ ] the districts on high-risk status in September while they struggled to finalize plans for a new school improvement system and guidance for new teacher-evaluation systems.

- 'In my opinion, Los Angeles should not get this same kind of flexibility as other waiver states,' said Anne Hyslop, senior policy analyst at Bellwether Education Partners. 'Given the freeze last year and the fact that the CORE waiver is now on high-risk because of their barely-developed school accountability system, I don't think Los Angeles' idea holds water or merits approval." But Fordham Institute President Michael Petrilli said LAUSD's request is "totally common sense." For example, some states are delaying the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations while deploying new exams. "Just as teachers should be 'held harmless' for the first year of the new tests (at least), so too for schools," he said.

- The Education Department also told states renewing their waivers that they can ask for $1 million a year for up to four years if they participate in an evaluation of what has worked with waiver implementation. The department's guidance suggests that even states receiving a three-year renewal could ask for a fourth year down the road, stretching their waiver into 2018-19 'if a funded evaluation would benefit from an additional year of implementation.

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