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Sen. Gresham: NCLB Waiver Request Shows Lawmakers, Haslam Admin. Listening to Teachers

Press Release from Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham, Nov. 16, 2011:

Senate Education Chairman Gresham says NCLB created Culture of Compliance

Tennessee goals to be centered on achievement

(NASHVILLE, TN), November 15, 2011 – State Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) said today that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver filed by the state of Tennessee is evidence that lawmakers and state education officials are listening to teachers and working behind the scenes to ensure a less burdensome regulatory environment in the state’s education system.

Gresham made the statement after Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced Tennessee is requesting permission to use its own accountability system utilizing the state’s First to the Top reforms in lieu of those required by the federal NCLB Act. NCLB is the federal program enacted in 2001 which has been criticized by many as unrealistic. It requires states to achieve 100 percent proficiency in all tested subjects by 2014 or be classified as a “failing school.”

“NCLB created a culture of compliance,” said Chairman Gresham. “Our goal is to create a culture of achievement.”

“I am very pleased with action taken by the department in addressing concerns with the federal No Child Left Behind accountability system,” she added. “While we have not been vocal about the work going on behind the scenes, we have been actively listening to advice and working to find solutions to ensure fairness in how our education system is evaluated under the federal law. This waiver request is proof of those concentrated efforts.”

The waiver filed by the Tennessee Department of Education states the request came after state officials “solicited input from a broad range of stakeholders, including teachers, other educators, and community leaders in the process of creating this application.” The state has requested regulatory relief from NCLB by tailoring achievement standards to comply with common core standards in Tennessee’s federal Race to the Top application, which preceded the state’s First to the Top program.

The waiver request states, “Tennessee has demonstrated the political will and capacity to significantly change state-level standards through our work over the last two years. Furthermore, we previously committed to implement the Common Core Standards in our Race to the Top application, passed the necessary rules, and have begun implementation. Our work raising standards is emblematic of the need for regulatory relief.”

“The waiver application represents our efforts to ensure evaluations are fair to all concerned. It also is the next step in our efforts to reach the goals we set in our First to the Top reforms, which were supported by a broad group of stakeholders from across Tennessee. Our schools and our teachers should be acknowledged for what they are doing and encouraged in the face of the challenging work ahead.”

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