Some Valley schools no longer have to follow No Child Left Behind

FRESNO, Calif.

This is the first time a group of school districts, rather than a state, has received a waiver from the Federal Education Standards and it could clear the way for permanent change.

Fresno and Sanger Unified became part of The California Office to Reform Education, also known as CORE. The group now joins 39 other states as well as Washington D.C. in getting relief from the law. District leaders say what they have come up with in its place, will truly leave no child behind.

When students head back to school in the fall they will see big changes in the way campuses evaluate student-teacher performance at Fresno and Sanger Unified School Districts.

"We've actually designed and set up a system we think empowers our teachers, our staff and our parents and our community to all get involved to call out the problems we all know are there and all lean against the same wheel to do the work," said Michael Hanson, Fresno Unified Superintendent.

School districts have been granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, to do away with No Child Left Behind. A federal law, they argue, relies too heavily on test scores and which requires all students to be proficient in math and english by 2014.

"It has forced educators to look at kids, unfortunately, as a number. How many kids do we have scoring proficient or advanced? And that's not the question we should be asking," said Matt Navo, Sanger Unified Superintendent. "We need to be asking how our kids grew from one year to the next. Were we affective?"

The one-year waiver throws out those requirements, and in exchange the districts have promised improvement.

"CORE has submitted a framework for what that will look like. It's the school quality improvement system and that framework has in it, specifics on where we believe we'll go," Navo said.

The frame will include three new categories to measure student and teacher performance. It will include things like graduation rates, attendance and campus culture, measures both districts believe matter more in schools.

There will also be a new way to measure certain racial and socio-economic subgroups CORE officials hope this will give a more accurate picture of how minority students are performing.

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