Duncan Gives No Hint about WA Waiver in Interview

In more in the long line of stuff Arne says comes this interview with Education Week.  But, NCLB waivers ARE brought up and, in specific, Washington State.  But Duncan is both direct and coy.

And he pledged to get one long-awaited initiative done that could also have a far-reaching impact: an overhaul of regulations that govern teacher-preparation programs. "They will get done," he said. "[They are] very important."

So that was the direct message and the one that the Washington legislature chose to ignore.

It's the teacher-evaluation piece of those waivers—tying evaluations to student test scores—that is tripping up a lot of states, and may cost at least one (Washington state) its waiver.

"We've tried to provide some real flexibility," Mr. Duncan said. "I'm interested in finishing at the right point. The path to get there is going to be very different. Some states are two or three years ahead of others, and are in great shape. Some are in the middle and some are further behind.
"We've been pretty agnostic on these things," he said, "and tried to give people the flexibility to figure out what the right answer is in their local context. There's no right or wrong answer."

Agnostic?  Okay but also when you carry a big stick and wave it around, that's not exactly clean hands.

On Washington State:

Mr. Duncan was asked whether Washington state, which is in hot water because its timelines do not match those set by the department, can save its waiver.

"Washington state made some commitments," Mr. Duncan said. "In any agreement, you agree to things on both sides in good faith. ... When we both make an agreement together we both have to live up to our commitments."

Despite having had a phone call with Washington state officials on its waiver just days before the interview, Mr. Duncan said he didn't know the specifics about their waiver predicament.

But he also said: "It takes a little bit more time to get it right; we're finding that. If you're headed in the right direction, that's something we absolutely want to have the conversation about. If the state decides they don't want to do something, that's different."

So there's these phone calls back and forth and still no answer?  I'm being to think that Duncan is quite worried about backlash if suddenly Washington state (and possibly others) have 95% of their schools declared "failing."  No one will buy that and NCLB will look more toothless than it already does.


Charlie Mas said…
Given the fact that 42 other states have waivers, I don't think that No Child Left Behind could be any more toothless. The law has been effectively repealed and replaced with the "Whatever Arne Duncan feels like doing" waiver process.
Disgusted said…
I'm sure this is a very complicated issue and a simple "yes" or "no" will not suffice.

We will see whether or not Duncan will support more effective stratigies over control of public ed. policy.

If school districts are forced to use outside tutors- which are less effective- Duncan is responsible.

This is an issue about control.
Disgusted said…
We've never seen costs of implementing infrastructure to link teacher evaluations to test scores, either. It is possible implementation costs exceed federal funding.
Anonymous said…
At this point I don't care what Duncan does or doesn't do. I figure we're already on the countdown to the next White House administration and the second Duncan is gone the bureaucracy will have a whole different set of playing rules. Could be better, could be worse - don't know - but might as well keep on keeping on and ignore Duncan's theatrics. I think he's a real piece of work. He has neither the talent nor the previous accomplishments (Chicago came out worse, not better, for his "CEO" role) to be doing the job he got by being Obama's basketball buddy. He's an egomaniac besides. In short, he's professionally and personally icky so why waste any more time thinking about him and his dumb policies.

(Boy, I wish there were a way to have Google spider my opinion and post it far and wide for the Ed community. Bet there would be applause nationwide.) :-)

Anonymous said…
Guess the waiver really was denied. Just saw this: http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2014/WaiverLetter.pdf

Anonymous said…
Duncan can stick it. There is no research base that shows student standardized test scores is a good measure of teacher quality. A teacher can inflate scores somewhat with additional test prep & test tricks, and teaching to the test, but that's about it - the bulk of a kid's score is determined by their SES and what kinds of experiences, assistance, etc. they've had at home - in other words, non-educational factors. Someone has a whole list someplace of the 12-15 major correlates affecting test scores, and they were all related to SES (nutrition, health care, educational status of parents, private music lessons, etc.) - teachers were not even in the top 10. No matter how well a test is purported to be made, the tests have too much error inherent in them to be a valid measure of teacher quality.

Read "Measuring Up - What Educational Testing Really Tells Us" by Daniel Koretz. Kind of wordy, but it helps you understand all the factors that make up test scores, and how tests and scores are misused.

Anonymous said…
We should get wonky because lord knows it's beyond the mainstream press, plus every special interest group will shortly put their own spin on the situation.

The pdf from OSPI has a many-page spreadsheet of exactly which waivers are being negated and what it means (in bureaucratic-speak). Let's read and discuss in the coming days!
Anonymous said…
(EdVoter wrote above.)
Anonymous said…
Waiver has been revoked. What does that mean? Could badly performing schools be closed and turned over to charters? I don't know what this means at all.

Kathy said…
Flexibility provided better student outcomes. Shame on Duncan.
Anonymous said…
When I have a performance review I don't tell my boss, " I don't agree
with what you asked me to do, so I didn't do it". Doing so reduces my merit bonus and will eventually get me fired.

So to get PAID I do what I'm expected to do and leave the philosophy to others!

I also disagree with a comment that outside tutors are less effective.
That's a purely subjective comment and differs from my experience.

I hope the sistricts will now stop skimming money and money will be available to struggling students to get the outside support the schools should be providing.

Charlie Mas said…
Michael, what distinguishes professionals from laborers is the expectation that professionals, like teachers, will use their knowledge, expertise, experience, creativity, and initiative to do what is right, rather than doing what their boss directs them to do. Professionals don't get directed, instead, they are given a set of goals and are expected to find their own way to achieve them.
Anonymous said…
Now you insult me even though I'm a white collar engineer who worked his way through collage in construction. Um where do you work?

When my boss set goals I have better at least attempted to perform them by review time.

You see most of the teachers are relics of the 20th century unable to perform for our 21st century students. I've been told many students are accessing subject matter experts via the internet during classes because the instructors don't have a clue.

They are far from professionals.
Don't take me as a teacher basher I could never without meds deal with 30-40 middle school students, but the truth is it time to clean house.

Anonymous said…
CCA, since no one else stepped up to answer your question, I will do so. But before I do so, let me just say that Washington's waiver was not technically revoked --- it is not being renewed. That may seem minor, but it is not from a legal standpoint.

OK, could badly performing schools be closed and turned over to charters? That is your question. The answer, technically, is yes. Any school that receives Title I dollars that has not made Adequate Yearly Progress --- that is the term from No Child Left Behind that refers to the requisite growth in performance each school and district must make --- for six consecutive years would be required to "restructure." Under restructuring a school can be closed entirely, turned into a charter school, turned over to a private school management organization/company, or be taken over and run by OSPI. This information I know off the top of my head. However, I can't immediately remember what entity makes the decision about the restructuring option --- the district, OSPI, State Board? I'll have to get back to you unless one of the other readers knows and answers before I do my research.

--- swk

You see most of the teachers are relics of the 20th century unable to perform for our 21st century students. I've been told many students are accessing subject matter experts via the internet during classes because the instructors don't have a clue.

Astonishingly disrespectful. Where and what is your data? I'm sorry you feel this way but it has not been my experience in the least.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
This "Michael" guy is some piece of work.

Hey "Michael"...get a clue: If you're going to blog, especially on education issues, you might want to write grammatically, or at a minimum, learn to utilize the spell check function on your software.

Even if your content remains as obtuse and loathsome as ever, you'll at least garner a modicum of respect from most readers for being able to communicate clearly.

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