The federal Department of Education has "significant concerns" about the State of Washington's plan to fix troubled schools.
The concerns were raised when a panel reviewed Washington's request for a waiver, excusing the state from meeting requirements under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). For an explanation of the waiver, click here.
In a letter from the Department of Education to State Superintendent Randy Dorn obtained by KING5 News, the panel identified certain components of the state's request in which they had the most concern:
- Whether the interventions proposed for priority schools fully meet the turnaround principles and are likely to increase the quality of instruction and improve student achievement.
- Whether the exit criteria for priority and focus schools are sufficiently rigorous.
- Whether student growth will be used as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation and support systems and the infrequency of evaluations of experienced teachers.
The list of so-called "priority" schools includes school that are already receiving or are expected to receive federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs). The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) release a list of the lowest performing schools in the state last December. Most are in Eastern Washington.
The DOE did praise the state for its work on college-and career-ready standards and for testing in subjects other than math and reading (although that has always been part of the plan in Washington and were included when the WASL was instituted in the mid-90s).
Similar letters were sent to 25 other states and the District of Columbia, all of which submitted waiver requests.
OSPI says it is reviewing the DOE letter and will respond to the Department soon - addressing their concerns and explaining Washington's position.