With the announcement Thursday that a requested waiver to the No Child Left Behind regulations has been approved, Derby schools began anticipating changes in the coming months.
The waiver will allow schools in the state to continue to work on school improvement, but no longer have to worry about being in 100 percent compliance on state assessment testing for all students in 2014. Veteran teachers and administrators had warned that 100 percent was a goal which could truthfully never be attained.
Early this week, Derby administrators were paying close attention to the implications from the waiver. It is a 300-page document and at least some fine points are still being ironed out, according to Charlene Laramore, Derby Public Schools assistant superintendent - curriculum and instruction.
She anticipates that most of the details related to the changes will be unveiled during an October meeting of the state’s curriculum leaders. Some bits and pieces of the new plans are trickling down and the document is an open record, so the local district has some hints as to what is coming. It is anticipating change on a day-to-day basis in local classrooms.
“I think it will have a great impact on Derby,” Laramore said.
Educators have said that with No Child Left Behind, they were focused too much on state assessment scores and too little on learning. Many have called the process “teaching to the test,” and Laramore said the overall change through the waiver is a relaxation of that philosophy.
“It will finally give us permission to focus on a well-rounded student,” she said.
The changes are not permission to slip back to lower test scores. Laramore said reading and math will still be important to all teachers, but the waiver gives them more leeway to focus on social studies, science and the arts – all important to students.
“We can focus on educating the whole child,” she said.
The district will have to continue to work to close the gap between students who naturally do well in the classroom and those who struggle. Laramore said both students and parents report that changes which came from No Child Left Behind mandates have helped the struggling students.
“It has allowed us to focus a little more sharply on students who do not do so well,” she said.
The anticipated changes will allow the district to work more on what students need, she said.
“We should be wanting excellence for all students,” she said. “I think it is going to be very exciting.”
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