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Recent News, U.S. Politics

NCLB Waiver Allows Race-Based Education Goals

According to CBS Tampa, the Florida State Board of Education just recently “passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race.” It assumes that Asians will perform highest in Florida schools, followed by whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans. This mirrors the proficiencies demonstrated in the pictured ACT Composite scores chart, via IntellectualTakeout.org.

“On Tuesday, the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level,” reports Benjamin Fearnow for CBS. “For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent. It also measures by other groupings, such as poverty and disabilities, reported the Palm Beach Post.” In other words, Florida will be able to meet its adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals with disparate outcomes categorized according to race or disability.

“The plan has infuriated many community activists in Palm Beach County and across the state.” Indeed.

According to Fearnow, only 69% of whites currently score at or above grade level in Florida, followed by 53% of Hispanics and 38% of African-Americans. In other words, the board has set a goal to nearly double the percentage of grade-level proficient African-Americans by 2018.

The race-based goals were necessary to free the state from some No Child Left Behind Act provisions, Fearnow reports. “In addition, State Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan said that setting goals for different subgroups was needed to comply with terms of a waiver that Florida and 32 other states have from some provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act,” he writes. To date, 33 states have requested NCLB waivers. You can see if your state has requested a waiver, and view details, here.

Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to the Chief State School Officers on September 23, 2011 outlining possible provisions which might be waived from NCLB. Included was an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility document (.doc). Number 12 in this letter provides for “Flexibility Regarding Making Adequate Yearly Progress Determinations” in which State educational agencies and local educational agencies “ would no longer be required to comply with the requirements in ESEA sections 1116(a)(1)(A)-(B) and 1116(c)(1)(A).” Instead, they “must report on their report cards performance against the [annual measurable objectives] for all subgroups identified in ESEA section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v), and use performance against the AMOs to support continuous improvement in Title I schools. “

ESEA section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v), refers to “separate measurable annual objectives for continuous and substantial improvement for each of the following:

      • (I) The achievement of all public elementary school and secondary school students.
      • (II) The achievement of–
      • (aa) economically disadvantaged students;
      • (bb) students from major racial and ethnic groups;
      • (cc) students with disabilities; and
      • (dd) students with limited English proficiency;
      • except that disaggregation of data under subclause
      • (II) shall not be required in a case in which the number of students in a category is insufficient to yield statistically reliable information or the results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student; …” (emphasis added).
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