Tri-City, Walla Walla Schools Fall Short of Federal Academic Requirements
Thousands of students will be receiving letters in the mail saying Washington state has failed to meet the academic standards of the No Child Left Behind program.
However, it's not the fault of the schools, it doesn't mean the students aren't progressing well. It's fallout from Washington state's failure to keep its waiver from the sometimes ambiguous and difficult standards.
During the Bush Administration, the No Child Left Behind legislation mandated certain academic standards be met over the next decade - and some of them were unrealistic. According to information released Monday by the Walla Walla School District:
" For schools to meet AYP this year, 100 percent of all students - regardless of special needs or English Language proficiency - must meet proficiency standards," said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Linda Boggs who manages the district's Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Department. "We feel these unrealistic requirements are overly demanding and regressive as we know not all schools in our state are failing."
The loss of the waiver has a significant economic impact on the district as well. In order to receive the $1.4 million in Title I funding, Walla Walla Public Schools must set aside 20 percent of these funds to pay for students to transfer to a school that meets the federal requirements or pay for private tutoring. Title I funds were established by the federal government to be used at schools with high poverty rates. "
Similar impacts are being felt in the Mid-Columbia as well. The reason Washington state lost it's waiver is because the state refused to adopt a compromise with the Federal Government. Federal officials agreed to continue our state-wide waiver if the WEA (Washington Education Association - Teachers Union) would agree to certain mandates. One of them included increased use of teacher performance-merit evaluations. They would only, however, be a small part of the puzzle when it came to teacher pay and other factors. Newstalk 870 reported on this back in May, that the WEA pressured even the sponsor of the legislation to vote against their own bill! From Newstalk 870's story May 6th of this year:
"Even Superintendent Randy Dorn and Gov. Jay Inslee, whom the Freedom Foundation says have never had a history of standing strongly up to the WEA, supported the bill. The WEA wanted no part of having teacher evaluations even remotely tied to student test scores." (Bold lettering added for emphasis).