Oklahoma schools got some very exciting news this week. Our state is one of the first in the nation to gain flexibility from federal restrictions under No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
This is great news, as it means schools will be able to more easily account for growth and progress within subgroups, rather than be penalized under the “one-size-fits-all” criteria of NCLB.
This is a game changer for our state. It means we can fully embrace our C3 Plan of making sure each child in our state is college, career and citizen ready. We can now press forward with the implementation of the significant reforms our Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin helped pass last year. These reforms include:
Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Evaluation system – This will help us meet the goal of having an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective leader in every school. Oklahoma’s districts can choose among several options approved by the state to help recognize the state’s best teachers and identify those who need more help.
3rd Grade Graduation - Under the new law, students who aren’t reading on grade level won’t be promoted to the 4th grade beginning in the 2013-14 school year. The focus will be on identifying struggling children beginning in Kindergarten and assisting teachers in the use of optimal strategies to help these children learn to read.
A-F Performance Grades for Schools - This year, Oklahoma will put into place a new A through F grading system for every school in the state. The new system will help parents and community members better understand how their school is performing by assigning a clear-cut letter grade.
The waiver also will help us focus on rewarding our highest-performing schools and on helping schools that are chronically failing.
No Child Left Behind was a positive bipartisan reform that brought focus to accountability and rigor, but now it’s time to take this next step. With the flexibility granted this week we can.