BOISE -- Idaho schools will not comply with someparts of the federal No Child Left Behind law until it is reformedto measure student academic growth from year to year,Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says.
Luna sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Secretary of Education ArneDuncan saying Idaho will begin implementing a new statewideaccountability system to measure whether students are makingadequate progress.
Idaho will not raise the benchmarks schools have to meet under9-year-old federal law -- or sanction schools that do not meet thesehigher testing goals -- until No Child Left Behind is fixed tobetter gauge student achievement, Luna said.
The long-awaited overhaul of No Child Left Behind began lastmonth in the U.S. House with the first in a series of targetedbills. But a comprehensive reform of the nation's most importanteducation law appears far from the finish line.
Idaho can no longer wait, Luna said.
The law has become a stumbling block to continued improvementin raising student achievement, Luna said.
New education laws backed by Luna and the governor focus on theacademic growth of students, not on whether they can pass a test,he said.
The state cannot afford to implement the changes and also putmoney toward schools that will be placed in the needsimprovement category under No Child Left Behind after benchmarksunder the law are increased this year, Luna said.
We don't have the luxury of time and resources to continue onwith the federal law that should have been rewritten four yearsago, he said.
More than two-thirds of Idaho's schools made gains under NoChild Left Behind last year.
Schools are required to meet 41 benchmarks for studentachievement under the law and a school's annual yearly progress, orAYP, is calculated based on test participation, academicachievement, graduation rates and other statistics.
But every few years, the percentage of students who must passstate tests increases.
Nationwide, millions of students remain far from reaching thelaw's ambitious goal of having 100 percent of students proficientin math and reading by 2014Fewer students in Idaho made adequate progress last year, whenbenchmarks under the law were increased dramatically.
This year, a school would need 90.4 percent of its students toreach grade-level proficiency in reading to make adequate progressunder the law, up from 85.6 percent last year. In math, a schoolwould need 88.7 percent of its students to reach grade-levelproficiency to achieve adequate progress, up from 83 percent.
The state will release all of the testing data on how schoolsperformed, Luna said.
But we're not going to classify them as needs improvement ifthey don't hit that higher goal and then put sanctions on them, Luna said.
While the reform of No Child Left Behind fix lags in Congress,other states are also implementing new accountability systemKentucky Gov. Steve Beshear sent a letter Monday asking thefederal government for a waiver that would allow the state to use adifferent method to measure whether students are making adequateprogress under No Child Left Behind.
The request came shortly after Duncan announced that states maybe offered relief from the No Child Left Behind requirements if thelaw isn't overhauled and reauthorized by Congress in the next fewmonths.