State seeks comment on waiver from federal education laws

The State Department of Education is asking for public feedback on its proposal to receive flexibility from federal education laws.

Ybarra first week
State superintendent Sherri Ybarra

Educators, education groups, parents and the public may read Idaho’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act / No Child Left Behind draft waiver and comment. (The state’s existing waiver and the draft of the new waiver are available to review on the department’s website.)

The new waiver is expected to be sent to the federal government for consideration on Thursday, a state spokesman said. On April 16, the State Board of Education gave Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra the green light for submitting the new waiver.

Idaho’s existing waiver is set to expire and Ybarra and her staff have been drafting a new one-year waiver to replace it.

The new waiver aims, in part, to:

  • Discontinue use of Schoolnet, the statewide instructional management system that was the subject of a stinging Office of Performance Evaluations report. Funding for a statewide system is being phased out, and districts will be able to select their own systems.
  • Suspend Idaho’s five-star school rating system as Ybarra’s team works on a new accountability model.
  • Propose and create guidelines for educator evaluations and support systems.
  • Remove some sanctions for not complying with No Child Left Behind’s Adequate Yearly Progress mandate.

State Department of Education spokesman Jeff Church said the new waiver is intended to set forth the direction and goals for Ybarra’s administration and establish a vision for public education.

The comment period is an important part of that process.

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“That’s the direction the department is heading – that open, honest, transparent approach,” Church said. “It will be open-ended as we work through the flexibility waiver and approval from the feds, and we want to make sure everybody is involved in the process.”

The waiver has already been discussed during public meetings at the Idaho Legislature, and before the State Board of Education.  Comments may be emailed to Marcia Beckman at the State Department of Education.

Church said state officials are planning to accept comments until further notice.

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