Two weeks ago 10 states were awarded waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act. Idaho plans to submit its application for a waiver on Tuesday, February 21. Idaho’s State Board of Education has set up a federal waiver to get around some of No Child Left Behind’s most stringent mandates. Idaho would use a new, five-star system to rate schools starting in the 2012-2013 school year. This five-star system, or scale, uses multiple measures to determine the success of a school. Schools will be evaluated on student proficiency, student academic growth, student growth toward proficiency, and post-secondary and career readiness. Joel Wilson, Superintendent of Preston School District, says, “The five-star system Idaho is implementing still focuses on a standardized test but besides the test it is looking at growth and getting college credit for students if possible at the same time.” The schools would use the statewide standard test, the ISAT, to measure growth and proficiency for grades 3-10. Additional metrics, such as graduation rate and enrollment, would be used to measure post-secondary and career readiness. In the Idaho system, when a school reaches the status of a four-star or five-star school they will be rewarded financially and be publicly recognized. One-star and two-star schools will be set on school improvement plans and will work closely with the state and their school districts. Three-star schools will also be on an improvement plan but will have more leniency as they try to improve and become a four-star school. Some states have been complaining that the No Child Left Behind Act, which focuses on standardized testing, fails to accurately gauge the student’s academic growth and sets unrealistic benchmarks for schools.
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