No Child Left Behind Virginia waivers being worked on

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia education officials are beginning work on implementing the state's two-year waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind school accountability requirements.

In exchange for the waiver, Virginia must develop accountability plans that set new targets for raising student achievement, advancing teacher effectiveness, improving the performance of low-performing schools and preparing students for careers and college.

The biggest initial project is developing ways to track student progress, Virginia Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The state is developing annual measurable objectives that will be used to measure "challenging but attainable goals" to improve student achievement, including achievement in specific student subgroups, Pyle said.

The state also agreed under the waiver to provide additional support to 15 percent of its lowest-performing Title I schools. Thirty-six schools, the bottom 5 percent, will be labeled "priority schools." The next 10 percent, or 72 schools, will be called "focus schools."

"There's no magic bullet," Pyle said. "I think we've learned that over a dozen years of reform. "For chronically underperforming schools, it is an intensive year-by-year, student-by-student effort to raise achievement."

Other issues that will have to be tackled include student transportation and choosing private partners to help public schools. "There's still a lot of work to do," Pyle said.

Virginia is among 24 states that have received waivers from the No Child Left Behind requirement that all students test proficient in math and reading by 2014. Virginia received its waiver in June, along with Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota and Utah.