No Child Left Behind Waiver

October 4, 2011

Hartford, CT – Right on the heels of the announcement that approximately 80% of the nation’s schools failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – including almost half of Connecticut schools – the Obama administration has announced a state waiver application process which would potentially allow states to escape from federal sanctions.

“In asking for relief from No Child Left Behind requirements, states must develop rigorous and comprehensive plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction,” said Senator Toni Boucher.

As ranking member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, Senator Boucher says these plans should include a teacher evaluation process that includes student growth as a factor.

“I successfully passed an amendment in the Education Committee that added student growth and development to teacher evaluation,” added Senator Boucher. “However, the bill was changed through union pressure and ultimately dropped before a vote could be taken in the general assembly.”

Senate Republicans have been fighting for inclusion of student growth as a significant factor in teacher evaluations for years. This language unfortunately was removed by some leaders pressured by teacher unions.

“I am pleased Governor Malloy has expressed a desire to apply for the waiver,” said Senator Boucher. “However, this doesn’t mean that we should not hold school districts accountable for improving student performance. Unfortunately we had the opportunity to include student growth and development in our overall assessment of how schools are doing and missed it.”

The state Department of Education recently announced that almost 50% of the state’s public elementary and secondary schools failed to meet (AYP) under federal (NCLB) standards, based on last spring’s testing. The list of those schools is attached.

Ironically, the same testing showed state-wide improvement in student performance compared to 2010. What happened?

Starting this academic year, federal standards measuring proficiency toughened. In 2010, in order to avoid being designated in need of improvement, 80% of students had to be proficient in reading and math. Using that standard, 72% of Connecticut schools met AYP in 2010.

In 2011, 9 out of 10 students must be proficient. So while scores improved, increased standards resulted in only 53% making AYP.

Connecticut currently has 268 elementary and middle schools, 62 high schools and 46 districts classified as in need of improvement.

By 2014, an unrealistic 100% of students must be proficient in reading and math.

Senator Boucher concluded, “It is my hope that a waiver will allow school districts to focus on closing the achievement gap, adding more rigors to the curriculum particularly in the math and sciences and improving the quality of instruction. Our children deserve no less. Now more than ever there is an economic imperative for producing better educated students who will become our future workforce competing on a global scale.”

Senator Boucher is a ranking member of both the General Assembly’s Education Committee and Higher Education Committee. Senator Boucher has also been appointed to Planning Commission for Higher Education, Committee to Review School Construction Regulations and Priority Listings for School Construction Projects, as well as CT Allied Health Workforce Policy Board.