State wants waiver on some education requirements

State School Superintendent John Barge, and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), say there is a good alternative to some of the accountability requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and are requesting that the U.S. Department of Education consider making some changes.

Barge and Isakson personally delivered the request –– on behalf of the state of Georgia earlier this week –– to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. They argue that Georgia has a workable alternative to some of the cumbersome accountability requirements of the federal act, and want permission to use it this school year.

The alternative is known as the Georgia College Career Ready Performance Index, and –– if approved –– would be used to measure the effectiveness of schools and school districts in the state. School officials say the content and requirements of the “index” will vary, based on grade levels, but it will measure the extent to which a school district, and the state, are successfully making progress on several accountability indicators. Those indicators include: Content mastery, student attendance, and readiness for the next level of preparation.

“Through [the] Georgia Career Ready Performance Index, we will be able to use multiple indicators to determine a school’s overall impact on our students,” said Barge. He added that this approach will ensure that all students are provided with the necessary academic tools to compete globally, as well as to develop the career skills required in the working world.

The index –– according to state officials –– represents more than 18 months of work dedicated to ensuring rigorous statewide accountability, and will provide more insight into a school’s improvement, and a student’s individual progress, than current Adequate Yearly Progress calculations.

Gov. Nathan Deal backs the idea. “The College and Career Ready Performance Index developed by Dr. Barge and his team at the Georgia Department of Education moves us in the right direction for 21st Century accountability, rather than focusing on one test given on one school day,” Deal said.

He added that the index will take a comprehensive look at the things that go into making successful elementary, middle and high schools.

“I commend Dr. Barge and Sen. Isakson for personally delivering this important request,” he said. “I’m appreciative of Secretary Duncan’s willingness to entertain accountability waivers from the states. I wholeheartedly support Georgia’s request.”