State schools lose bid for exemption from federal sanctions

Published: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4A

California has been denied a waiver from federal sanctions associated with the No Child Left Behind law, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a news release Friday.

"It is disappointing that our state's request – which enjoyed such strong support from parents, teachers, administrators, and education advocates across California – has apparently been rejected," Torlakson said in a statement.

Under the law, all students must score at grade level on math and English tests by 2014, a high mark designed to make schools focus attention on their worst-performing students. Schools that don't meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind two years in a row are placed in "Program Improvement," which forces schools to spend federal Title I money on private after-school tutoring or offer students the opportunity to transfer to another school. Schools also can be subject to a state takeover or significant restructuring.

"Based on a thorough examination of federal and state law, California made a good-faith effort to seek relief from requirements that even federal officials have acknowledged time and again are deeply flawed," Torlakson said. "Working within the framework of existing law, we offered to instead emphasize our own state system of school accountability, which provides far more useful and meaningful measures of school performance."

A Bee story published earlier this week found that three-quarters, or 230, of the Sacramento region's Title I schools are in Program Improvement. That number includes schools in Davis and Rocklin with composite test scores near the 90th percentile statewide.

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Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez

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