Haslam Lauds No Child Left Behind Waiver

Thursday, February 09, 2012 | 01:09 pm

Gives Tennessee flexibility to measure progress with state-specific goals and rigid standards

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today lauded the approval by U.S. Department of Education officials of Tennessee’s waiver request from certain portions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Tennessee was the first state to request a waiver and was one of only 10 recipients of the first round of waivers. The Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) accountability model under NCLB has been an ongoing obstacle for schools and districts because it does not fully account for schools’ growth.

“Tennessee schools have continued to make progress over the past decade that NCLB has been law, but the rigid and unrealistic AYP accountability model labeled some of these schools as failures despite meaningful improvement,” Haslam said. “We’ve implemented rigorous standards in Tennessee, and Tennessee received this waiver because of our commitment to improving education for all of our students.”

Under the waiver, Tennessee proposes to raise overall achievement by 3 to 5 percent each year and to cut achievement gaps in half over an 8-year period.

To track progress, the U.S. Department of Education required Tennessee to identify three groups of schools:

  • Reward schools: 10 percent of schools throughout the state with the highest achievement or overall growth.
  • Focus schools: 10 percent of Tennessee’s schools with the largest achievement gaps.
  • Priority schools: The bottom 5 percent of the state’s schools in terms of academic performance.

“It’s just not helpful or realistic to label schools and districts as failing, especially when they are making significant academic gains,” Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said. “This waiver is all about approving achievement for all students while closing persistent achievement gaps.”

Tennessee’s approved waiver can be found at the Tennessee Department of Education’s website: www.tn.gov/education, and for more information, contact Kelli Gauthier with the department at (615) 532-7817 or Kelli.Gauthier@tn.gov.