Florence County looking forward to NCLB waivers - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Florence County looking forward to NCLB waivers

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Under the No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2001, schools are given objectives to follow throughout the year and missing only one can label a school failing.

This new waiver system will give schools around the country and the Pee Dee some relief.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says that more than 80 percent of all U.S. schools could be labeled failures next year if the law isn't changed. So he's offering a new waiver system that allows states to pursue other education reforms in they do not meet the adequate yearly progress, or AYP.

Assistant Superintendent for Florence District One Schools Randy Koon said,"I welcome that, I think it's something that's long overdue. I think our present system has been a misrepresentation of whether a school is effective or not."

The No Child Left Behind Act has hit Florence County hard, 17 out of 35 schools have passed the state requirements this year, but only 6 out of 35 passed AYP, giving 28 schools a failing grade.

"There's something wrong with the two systems and they need to be more closely aligned," said Koon, referring to state and national evaluations.

State Superintendent Mick Zais said that it's time for a change.

"I intend to submit waivers that set high expectations for South Carolina students while more accurately assessing the performance of schools.  Additionally, we must more closely link classroom teachers to student performance because every student should be taught by a highly effective teacher.  To accomplish this goal will require relief from burdensome federal regulations," Zais said.

He says that these reevaluations should have come years ago.

"Over the past decade, there has been an alarming trend towards a top-down approach to federal education policy.  The answers are in the classrooms and districts around South Carolina; not in Washington.  The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act should have been addressed two years ago.  Political paralysis by President Obama and his political allies have kept South Carolina students trapped in this failed model well past its expiration date," Zais said.

A new teacher orientation was held Monday and current, as well as new, teachers spoke about the issue.

New William Middle School Teacher Ursula Jeffcoat said,"I think it's such a complex issue, I don't think there's one correct answer to the issue."

Jeffcoat attended the orientation with her mentor and current teacher at William Middle School, Sheila Barnes.

"Education is a change and if there's a benefit there, we'll embrace it and go with it," Barnes said.

The details on how this new system will work are expected to come out sometime in September.

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