Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
BOISE — Idaho has been among leading critics of the No Child Left Behind education program, but state officials will have to wait longer to find out if they'll be freed from the federal law's toughest requirements.
A list of eight additional states to receive flexibility from the law was released Tuesday and did not include Idaho. The state Department of Education is still working on Idaho's waiver application based on feedback from the federal government, spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said.
The Obama administration is granting the waivers from No Child Left Behind in exchange for promises from states to improve preparation and evaluation of students. In all, 19 states have been given the flexibility so far, and Idaho is among states with applications that are still under review.
"We expect to be approved in August or September," McGrath said.
With a waiver from the federal government, Idaho intends to use a new, five-star system to rate its public schools beginning in the 2012-2013 school.
As part of the waiver application, states were asked to submit a preliminary list of how schools would rate under their new, homegrown accountability systems. Idaho is still collecting the data necessary to make those calculations, McGrath said.
Idaho's proposed new measuring system would use scores from the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests, or ISAT, to measure student academic growth and proficiency in grades three through 10, while graduation rates and student enrollment in advanced courses would come into play in later grades.
Public schools chief Tom Luna has said he chose a five-star scale because it's a rating system the general public can relate to, but the state needs more time to determine how students would fare under it, McGrath said.
"In Idaho, in order for us to complete those calculations for the five-star system, we still are waiting on data from ISAT testing that happened this spring, and from the SAT college entrance exams that happened in April, and then also our graduation rates from the most current year," McGrath said.
Idaho was among a handful of states that spearheaded a rebellion against No Child Left Behind last year, saying it sets unrealistic benchmarks for public schools while failing to accurately measure student growth.
Luna argued Idaho schools could no longer wait for Congress to reauthorize the education law and rewrite it to better gauge student performance.
President Barack Obama announced last September that since Congress had failed to rewrite No Child Left Behind, he would allow states that meet certain requirements to apply for a waiver to get around it. In all, 19 states have been given waivers so far.
During the first round of waivers announced in February, Obama freed 11 states from some of the George W. Bush-era law's most stringent mandates. Those states were Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee
The eight additional states announced Tuesday were Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.
The waivers are a stopgap measure until Congress can rewrite the decade-old law, which has been up for renewal since 2007. Federal lawmakers agree the law needs to be changed, but they have so far bickered over how to do that.
Utah seeks 'state solutions'
SALT LAKE CITY — State education officials say they're still waiting to hear back about Utah's application for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind education law after it wasn't accepted in the latest round of approvals.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Gary Herbert says Utah is seeking "state solutions for state problems."
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