By Michele McNeil
The U.S. Department of Education granted an unprecedented waiver Tuesday under the No Child Left Behind Act to eight California districts that together educate 1 million students, upending a long tradition of state-based school accountability.
The first-of-its-kind waiver, good for one year, essentially allows the eight districts to set up their own accountability system outside of the state of California’s—and largely police themselves through their own board of directors. The districts known as CORE, for California Office to Reform Education, will operate under a new “school quality improvement index” that will be based 60 percent on academic factors such as test scores and graduation rates, 20 percent on social-emotional factors such as the absentee rate, and 20 percent on culture and climate factors such as student and parent surveys. The CORE districts are Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger and Santa Ana.