Now that the state of Missouri has received a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, area school districts will have a little more flexibility when it comes to accounting for student success.

Now that the state of Missouri has received a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, area school districts will have a little more flexibility when it comes to accounting for student success.


“The immediate impact is that the district will not have to send out the annual ‘our district is on the needs improvement list’ – along with every other district in the metro area – letter to our patrons,” Fort Osage Superintendent Mark Enderle said. “This also means we don’t have to worry about any of our individual schools also falling onto the needs improvement list, and the stigma that went along with it.”


The U.S. Department of Education approved Missouri’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver in late June, which gives the state some flexibility from No Child Left Behind requirements.


Missouri was one of five states to receive the waiver in this round. The others were Arkansas, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia. Kansas also has received the waiver. In total, 31 states and the District of Columbia have been declared exempt from the rigid requirements.


The NCLB requirements designate individual schools and school districts as “in need of improvement” or failing based on a number of factors, including state test scores. NCLB also requires that students be proficient in mathematics and reading by 2014. The waiver will allow the state to use its own accountability system to identify schools that are struggling and bypasses the 2014 requirement. Resources will be directed to these schools, while schools that are excelling will be recognized for achieving exemplary results.


The waiver will go into effect for the 2012-13 school year. In addition, a greater focus will be placed on school improvement, the teacher evaluation system will be improved and higher academic standards will be implemented.


Independence Superintendent Jim Hinson said it is still unclear how the districts will be impacted and wishes there had been more clarity provided before the waiver was approved.


“I wish the impact on school districts would have been made available in advance,” he said. “It will take a while to fully understand all of the implications.”


Enderle said with the waiver approved, improving the No Child Left Behind law is a “moot point.” He said school districts will only be bound to the state’s new scoring system, which is still a work in progress.


“I know there have been many concerns raised about the procedure used to create the new state scoring guide, but our position has been that it will be easier dealing with one educational bureaucracy (the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) as opposed to two, DESE and the U.S. Department of Education,” he said. “As for the educational impact, I believe the waiver is of little significance regarding the quality of instruction provided by our district.  Fort Osage provided a quality education to its students long before NCLB existed, and will continue to do so long after it’s gone.”


For more information on the final waiver application, answers to frequently asked questions and to find other supporting documents, visit the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website at dese.mo.gov/qs/esea-waiver.html.