Missouri is one of the states recently granted a waiver, freeing local school districts from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal requirements that all students test proficient in math and science by 2014.
It was a goal that few districts in the state or the nation was expected to meet.
Meramec Valley R-III School District administrators are evaluating the waiver to determine what exactly it means to the district.
Districts that failed to meet the requirement would be faced with school choice, allowing families to choose to attend any other school within their district.
The waiver now relieves districts from the school choice aspect and providing transportation to higher-achieving schools for students whose buildings did not meet goals.
Meramec Valley already has faced that situation. In 2011, one school, Zitzman Elementary, in the district received sanctions, but only two families in that school elected to move their students to another school.
“The immediate impact for us is relief from the school choice element,” said Superintendent Randy George.
Under NCLB, if any subgroup fails to meet the standard two years in a row, families in that school can choose to send their students to another school within the district.
George said four schools in the district would have fallen within the school choice mandate next year. And that could have been a nightmare, he said.
“If you had families moving their students all over the district that would not only mean that we had to provide the transportation, but the district would have to move teachers to where the new need for teachers dictated,” he pointed out.
“The worst part of that is we might not know until the last minute where the teachers would be needed,” George said.
Administrators are going over the waiver language with a fine-tooth comb to understand its full impact and new requirements.
George noted that relief from the NCLB test requirements in no way changes the district’s commitment to providing students the best possible education in the district.
“We’re committed to using all our resources to educate every student, and that includes the students in the subgroups,” George said. “The waiver didn’t change that.”