A collaborative of nine California school districts is submitting today a first-of-its-kind waiver seeking relief from the harshest sanctions of the No Child Left Behind law. The proposal would commit the participating districts to a new accountability system, focusing on student achievement but deemphasizing standardized test scores. The existing requirements and penalties would remain in effect for all of the other districts in the state.
If U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan consents, the districts in the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE, would join the 34 states and Washington, D.C., with waivers from NCLB; ten more states have applications pending. Since California’s waiver was rejected last year, and the state is not reapplying this year, CORE is going its own way, filing for a waiver under a provision of NCLB allowing districts to submit proposals. State Board of Education President Michael Kirst said Tuesday that he has read the law and agrees that Duncan has the authority to grant waivers to districts.