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School districts react to NCLB waiver loss with letter to parents

Representatives from OSPI, Kent, Tacoma, and Tukwilla school districts met Wednesday to sign a letter that will be sent to parents reminding them of the achievements and progress Washington schools have made, and to take the No Child Left Behind’s “failure” rating with a bit of skepticism. - Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter
Representatives from OSPI, Kent, Tacoma, and Tukwilla school districts met Wednesday to sign a letter that will be sent to parents reminding them of the achievements and progress Washington schools have made, and to take the No Child Left Behind’s “failure” rating with a bit of skepticism.
— image credit: Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter

School principals and superintendents from the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) met to publicly address a requirement of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Parents with children enrolled in the Kent School District will soon find letters in their mailboxes informing them that their school is a "failing" school, according to standards set by the 2001 law.

For the past seven years, Washington state secured a waiver exempting it from the law, but this year the U.S. Department of Education rejected that waiver on April 24 and an appeal on July 21. Washington lost its NCLB waiver due to legislators rejecting language in education law that would link teacher evaluations to standardized testing performance.

Among the requirements of the law, districts must send formal letters to parents notifying them of their school's "failing" performance. Twenty Kent schools will receive failing reports for not meeting the NCLB standards.

No Child Left Behind has been widely criticized in the 13 years since its creation under the Bush Administration. Educators say that it's overly critical and cumbersome and impedes their efforts.

The law expired in 2007 and the Obama administration encouraged states to apply for waivers to avoid the law's sanctions.

These schools will have to set aside 20 percent of their budgets for out-of-district remedies to their problems. These could range from private tutors, transportation to out of district schools, or other efforts.

"Schools in Washington are doing better than ever," said Kent Schools Superintendent Edward Vargas.

The PSESD said that by many other accountability indexes, Washington schools are doing significantly better.

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