On June 29, 2012, Arkansas received a waiver of certain No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. The purpose of this letter is to describe the educational opportunities made possible by the waiver, and to help you understand what the waiver will mean for you and your child. NCLB required Arkansas to measure the progress schools are making toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by the year 2014. Schools that did not make sufficient progress for two or more consecutive years were “identified for improvement.” Under NCLB, schools receiving federal Title I funds that did not make sufficient progress had to offer parents the opportunity to transfer their child to another school in the district that was not identified for improvement and/or offer tutoring, called supplemental educational services (SES) to children from low income families. When NCLB was passed in 2002, it provided families useful information about the performance of their children’s schools. However, NCLB’s rising targets have led to an increasing number of schools deemed failing under the law. As a result, NCLB made it impossible for parents to distinguish mostly successful schools from schools that were struggling. Arkansas’s approved Flexibility Request corrects many of the problems under NCLB. Instead of expecting all schools to reach 100 percent proficiency by the year 2014, the state will measure progress toward the goal of reducing proficiency or growth gaps by half by 2017, a goal that is ambitious and more achievable than the NCLB goal. Districts and schools will be placed in one of five “accountability and assistance levels” designed to support schools where students are struggling the most. Finally, districts will have greater flexibility in using federal Title I funds to meet identified needs and will not be restricted to offering NCLB school choice and SES. In order to take advantage of the flexibility offered by the waiver, beginning in the 2012-13 school year, Pulaski County Special School District will no longer offer NCLB school choice or SES. Instead, we will use federal funds to improve teaching and learning for our students. We will:
- Hire certified teachers as math or literacy interventionists to help students reach proficiency.
- Implement College and Career Readiness State Standards to prepare your child for post-secondary education.
- Increase the professional development provided to teachers by having a daily common meeting time after the student day.
- Continue to use formative assessments to evaluate student performance.
- Provide additional resources and materials to supplement the College and Career Readiness State Standards.
If your child is enrolled in a school as a result of NCLB school choice, he or she is entitled to remain in that school through the highest grade served by the school. PCSSD will continue to provide transportation to PCSSD students who transferred to a NCLB choice school until the student reaches the highest grade served by the school. Younger siblings will not be allowed to transfer to the school that a sibling is enrolled in as a result of NCLB school choice. The Flexibility does not affect our continuing obligation to share with you information on the performance of your child’s school; nor does it affect our commitment to involving all parents as full partners in the education of their children. For more information on the waiver and what it will mean for your child, please visit the Arkansas Department of Education online at http://arkansased.org/ For more information on how you can become involved in your child’s school, please contact Dr. Darnell Bell, Director of Federal Programs/Professional Development at 501.234.2205.