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ESEA Waiver Sets the Course for Higher Achievement

KASB is supportive of the general direction the state board of education has charted for our schools. This summer’s announcement that Kansas has received a waiver from provisions of the No Child left Behind Act clears the way for new, more effective plan to improve our state’s educational outcomes - if we proceed correctly.

Over the past decade, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the most current reauthorized version of the Elementary and Secondary Act, required schools to focus on getting students to a basic level of proficiency in reading and math and required attention to students who historically lagged behind in educational achievement: low income, minorities, the disabled, and immigrants learning to speak English.

Kansans have provided resources to support educational opportunity and outcomes, changing the school finance system to insure districts with low tax wealth and high poverty can also achieve at high levels. Despite some claims to the contrary, school completion rates, college attendance and degree attainment are at an all-time high. State test scores in reading and math have improved steadily, especially among historically low performing groups. With more students attending college, college readiness has improved as well. On 11 national measures of education, Kansas ranks sixth among the 50 states, while spending below the national average per pupil.

Despite this progress, the shortcomings of NCLB have become clear, including an overemphasis on basic skill testing and too little focus on those students not moving immediately into a four-year degree program.  With nearly 90 percent Kansas students now scoring “proficient” on state reading and math tests, it is clearly time to focus on moving students to higher levels of achievement. This includes preparing students to graduate from high school prepared for college and careers. The federal waiver gives our state with the flexibility to define its own criteria for how to improve Kansas schools...the Kansas way. 

KASB has produced a ‘primer’ as a quick overview of how Kansas plans to use this flexibility for school accountability and improvement. In addition there are links below to a one-hour webinar and the powerpoint presentation presented August 10 by Dr. John Heim, executive director, and Mark Tallman, associate executive director/advocacy.  
To receive the waiver, the State Board submitted a plan with three main components.  

What it says...

Principle 1 – College and Career-
Ready Expectations for all Student.


Principle 2 – State-Defined Differentiated Recognition, Accountability and Support

Principle 3 –  Supporting Effective Instruction 
and Leadership


The waiver includes a fourth principle -
reducing duplicating and unnecessary burden -
will require changes in selected state statutes. Details and recommendations are
under development. 

What it means...

Adopt common core standards and
new student assessment in reading and math.

Establish new performance targets
for improving student achievement.

Teacher and principal evaluation and support with a focus on student achievement.