The state of West Virginia can now use its own accountability measures to identify and assist troubled schools in the state.
The West Virginia Board of Education received the stamp of approval from the U.S. Department of Education this week on a proposal seeking flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act.
“This means the federally mandated one size fits all approach to academic success will no longer hinder our school’s performance and our student achievement,” said Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
Governor Tomblin along with state Board of Education President Wade Linger and state superintendent Jim Phares announced the good news Monday at the State Capitol.
The waiver frees the states public schools and allows them to focus on achievement and improvement so that all students can be prepared for college and career success.
“Our administrators and our teachers will decrease their time invested in federally required paperwork and instead they will invest their time, energy and efforts into what they do best, teaching our children the skills and knowledge they need for a bright future,” said Tomblin.
The request also establishes a high-quality accountability system that values individual student academic growth and supports schools as well as expands the Educator Evaluation System which provides more effective teacher and principal evaluations.
State superintendent Jim Phares said it is key that teachers and principals self-evaluate themselves.
“That’s one of the things that stimulates more growth if you look at any type of human development for any type of growth model concept, that piece of reflecting on where you are and as to where you need to be is absolutely critical,” said Phares.
In addition to focusing on student achievement as well as making sure teachers and principals are operating at their best, the request also creates a simpler way of identifying troubled schools.
“The West Virginia Department of Education will develop an annual performance report that provides a more complete and comprehensive picture of where a school district or a school is meeting performance expectations and where it’s not,” said Phares.
Proposed in the flexibility waiver is the new West Virginia Accountability Index (WVAI) which categorizes schools into five rankings: Priority, support, focus, transition and success. Schools that are targeted will get further assistance.
“Resources will be used more efficiently to support struggling schools and schools will have more flexibility in using federal funds for improvement,” said Phares.
The WVAI is intended to provide parents with an easier to understand and more accurate report on the success of their child’s school.
Phares said this diagnostic review has a good proven track record.
Already, the state board of education has identified 32 low performing schools across the state as priority schools making them eligible for extra funds and resources.
Phares said he sees great changes coming in the states education system.
“It is clear West Virginia is well on its way in making significant education gains in student achievement,” said Phares.
The waiver goes into effect immediately for the 2013-2014 school year.