State Board of Ed approves No Child Left Behind waiver

The State Board of Education Friday granted unanimous approval to a state request for flexibility from some aspects of federal education laws.

Sherri Ybarra
State superintendent Sherri Ybarra

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra presented the request, a one-year waiver from elements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind.

The board had already given the green light to many waiver aspects this spring, but the feds sent it back to Idaho for technical corrections and formatting, Ybarra said.

Board members received the latest revisions Thursday night, Ybarra said. (A version of the waiver was posted online Thursday alongside the agenda for Friday’s meeting. The waiver begins on tab one, page five).

Ybarra said the main points of the waiver include:

  • “Pushing the pause button” on Idaho’s school accountability model for one more year. Idaho had used a five-star rating system, but a state subcommittee is reviewing the system and may recommend a replacement. Additionally, with only one year of ISAT / Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests in the books, Ybarra said the state does not have enough data to award star ratings this year.
  • Discontinuing the statewide instructional management system known as Schoolnet and allowing school districts to use their own systems.
  • Removing some sanctions for schools that do not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates of No Child Left Behind.

“With everybody moving toward a mastery-based education system, they want to see more personalization and innovation,” Ybarra told board colleagues. “They realize the SBAC or whatever assessment test … is not the only deciding factor in students’ success.”

Board members spent most of the afternoon meeting listening to Ybarra describe the waiver and revision process. Then they asked questions, seeking assurances that they would be able to review both the rough draft and final plans for the new accountability model.

During an interview with Idaho Education News Tuesday, Ybarra described the waiver request and said she would immediately submit it to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration upon the State Board’s approval.

Ybarra said she would present a rough draft of the accountability model to the board in December and then bring a final plan for a vote in February.

On Friday, Ybarra predicted the ongoing process working with the federal government could prove time consuming.

“It is going to be painful and it is going to require a lot of discussion probably at board meetings until (the feds) do away with these waivers,” Ybarra said.

The meeting was conducted via teleconference and lasted just 38 minutes. The newest member of the board, West Ada Superintendent Linda Clark, did not attend. Clark was appointed to the State Board of Education just hours earlier Friday by Gov. Butch Otter.