The U.S. Department of Education has again granted a one-year extension of a waiver from certain No Child Left Behind federal rules for a collaborative of six school systems including the Long Beach Unified School District.
Like the Local Control Funding Formula approved by California in 2013, the federal waiver returns more control and flexibility to the local level. The waiver replaces a restrictive, punitive system with one that rewards improvement and provides help to schools that need it.
The Education Department granted the original one-year waiver in August of 2013 to the school districts, whose consortium is called the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE. Together, the CORE districts serve more than 1 million students – more than most states. One-year extensions of the waiver were granted last September and again this month.
The other participating school districts are Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Ana. The waivers were approved in exchange for locally developed plans to prepare all students for college and careers, focusing more aid on the neediest students, and supporting effective teaching and leadership.
"The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America's school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated upon announcing the waiver extension. "As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes. States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal—getting every student in America college and career ready."
The CORE districts have used their waiver to engage in annual peer-to-peer review of waiver implementation, creating innovative district-to-district accountability for sharing promising practices and improving achievement in lower performing schools.
The latest announcement from the Education Department states that the CORE districts “have continued to work with the Department to resolve all monitoring findings and have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.”