District 518 official: NCLB waiver will aid in measuring accountability

WORTHINGTON -- While full details for the No Child Left Behind waiver have not been released by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Tammy Timko -- Worthington School District 518's Coordinator for Teaching and Learning -- is convinced th...

WORTHINGTON -- While full details for the No Child Left Behind waiver have not been released by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Tammy Timko -- Worthington School District 518's Coordinator for Teaching and Learning -- is convinced the waiver is a good first step in measuring accountability.

In February, President Obama released 10 states, including Minnesota, from the law, which was intended to improve national student proficiency in math and reading through test-based accountability. Prior to the waiver, the deadline for the aforementioned proficiency was set for 2014.

"The original thought behind No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a very good one, but the way it was set up was impractical," Timko said.

With the waiver, schools will not only be measured based on proficiency -- as was the case with NCLB -- but also student growth, achievement gaps and graduation rates.

Additionally, schools will no longer face sanctions for not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which represents the benchmark for student proficiency.


One corrective action schools were subjected to was further restrictions on how they could spend Title I money -- a federal fund -- to provide additional tutoring to lower-achieving students.

In the case of District 518, Prairie Elementary receives most of the Title I money.

Timko stressed that the waiver does not do away with AYP.

For schools to stay on track for AYP, each student subgroup must meet designated targets that show sufficient improvement in math and reading. Schools earn a point for every student who meets or exceeds proficiency rates and half a point for each student who partially meets the standard.

"They will continue to use these index points for proficiency," she said.

A new system, Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR), will award schools a maximum of 25 points for each of the four categories they are judged on.

Timko explained that Minnesota Department of Education has scheduled for schools to receive MMR in May.

"The biggest change we notice as a district is the addition of the growth measure," Timko said. "They'll also use the growth measure on measuring the achievement gap to determine if the gap is narrowing."


Racial achievement disparity has been a troubling matter for many schools in the state, including District 518. The disparity was evident in last year's results of the science Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment II.

The two majority racial demographic groups in District 518 are Hispanic and Caucasian. Out of 203 Hispanic students who were tested, 16.3 percent were proficient; their Caucasian counterparts showed proficiency level of approximately 48 percent out of the 233 students who tested.

"This achievement gap reflects Minnesota's urgent need to focus time, attention and resources to making sure all children achieve at high levels," said Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in a press release last year.

According to research conducted by Education Minnesota, schools receiving Title I money will be classified into several categories based on the MMR:

l Reward Schools are the top 15 percent of schools receiving Title I money.

l Focus Schools are the lowest 10 percent.

l Priority Schools are the lowest 5 percent of schools receiving Title I money.

l Celebration Schools are the 25 percent of schools below Reward Schools.


l Continuous Improvement Schools are the schools that are at the bottom 25 percent but are not in the Focus or Priority group.

Timko added that the school district improvement plan initially formed as a corrective measure for not making AYP is still applicable with the waiver in place.

"A big part of our improvement plan is SIOP (Standard Instruction Observation Protocol)," Timko said of program, which District 518 began implementing with fourth-graders last year.

SIOP is a research-based model used to effectively convey teaching material while promoting language development.

"We want to expand it (SIOP) district-wide. It's about closing our achievement gap," Timko added.

Once schools receive their MMR information in May, Timko said the district will began making more adjustments to the improvement plan.

"When we start next school year, we want to start running rather than spending the whole first quarter trying to figure it out," she said.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321.

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