State Board to discuss districts' request for NCLB waiver

March 13, 2013

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The State Superintendent of Public Instruction and members of the State Board of Education will speak publicly this week for the first time on the effort by a consortium of California school districts to seek their own waiver from some regulations and consequences of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

At its meeting Thursday, the State Board of Education will discuss whether to issue a formal response on the waiver application from the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE, and if so, what to say about it.

Nine of the ten CORE districts, which together educate more than a million California students, have signed on to the proposal, which they decided to pursue after the U.S. Department of Education rejected the state’s application last year. The Board is allowed to comment but cannot amend or reject the waiver proposal.

In a memo to board members, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson didn’t take a position, but did focus on the potential policy questions and concerns, including whether the state would continue to monitor the CORE districts’ compliance with NCLB even if they have a waiver from those requirements, and how the CORE districts and State Department of Education would share data if CORE is using a separate, third-party data system.

State Department of Education spokesperson Paul Hefner said the memo is meant to present a summary of the waiver and “lay out some of the issues that the Board might want to consider in thinking about how to comment on the application.”

Mike Hanson, superintendent of Fresno Unified school district, and CORE chair, said he respects that the Department of Education has to view the waiver from a policy and compliance perspective, but wishes the Department would have contacted CORE before writing the memo. “We think some of it could have been clarified,” said Hanson. “There are things that could have been said differently.”

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