I received an email from Stephen Earley, an elementary school principal in Vermont. He reminds us that the state of Vermont decided not to request an NCLB waiver. It wasn’t because Vermont likes NCLB but because the state education commissioner realized that Arne Duncan’s mandates are no better than those in NCLB.
Because the state of Vermont rejected the waiver and showed independence and critical thinking, Vermont is the first state to join our honor roll.
The honor roll is the place we recognize individuals, school boards, PTAs, districts and now a state because they support public education.
Here is Stephen Earley’s comment:
The state of Vermont withdrew its NCLB waiver request because the state refused to compromise its beliefs about what is best for children. This statement came from the Commissioner’s office at the time:
“However as the Vermont Department of Education has continued to negotiate for the flexibility that was promised since we started in August, it has become clear that the USED is interested in simply replacing one punitive, prescriptive model of accountability with another.
The term “flexibility” is a misnomer. Two of the more heavy handed methods the USED is still insisting on are using a single test to determine accountability, and using that test to represent a majority of a teacher’s evaluation.
We cannot continue to expend energy requesting a detailed accountability system that looks less and less like what we want for Vermont. We do not have confidence that the requirements we are being asked to meet is the formula for success. We want to move forward towards a system that is better for our schools, our educators, and most importantly, our students.”
The state consistently has some of the best scores on the NAEP exam, but over 70% of its schools are not meeting AYP standards now, in part because they never lowered the cutoff on the test as other states have. With such a high percentage of schools not making AYP, it might have made sense to some to jump through all of the Feds’ hoops and proceed with the waiver process. But the state board of education saw what was being demanded, and saw how harmful it would be, and ultimately (and unanimously) said no.
In addition, the state’s high-stakes test is given during the first week of October, which means that test prep and cramming are kept to a minimum, and what is emphasized is actual knowledge that can be retained over the summer.