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Washington Schools At "High Risk" Of Losing No Child Left Behind Waiver

Washington state has been given one year to change its teacher evaluation law or risk losing $38 million in federal education funding.

In a letter Wednesday to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, US Department of Education Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle said the state was being granted a one-year extension of its conditional waiver from the requirements of the federal law known as No Child Left Behind.

But Delisle said the state is now on "high risk" status because it has so far failed to meet the waiver's condition that the state require districts to use students' state test scores to evaluate teachers.

Under Washington’s current teacher evaluation law, districts have to use multiple measures of so-called “student growth” data in teacher evaluations. But districts are allowed to choose those measures of students’ academic growth. Although the student growth measures districts choose usually include state test scores, that's not required under state law.

Because that conflicts with the federal standard, state Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Alan Burke said his office expected the state would be placed on “high risk” status.

He says it’s up to the state Legislature to change the teacher evaluation law by the deadline the Education Department has set for next spring.

That could be difficult, given the short session next year.

There’s increased political resistance to standardized testing. And many statisticians say using standardized test scores to accurately measure teacher effectiveness is impossible.  

Year started with KUOW: 2008