Oxford to discuss 'No Child' waiver

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi’s education chief will be in Oxford on Monday to gain input into a plan that would seek a waiver from some requirements of the nation’s education law.
Mississippi is among more than 40 states that have notified the United States Department of Education they will consider applying for relief from No Child Left Behind, the national law passed in 2001 that requires students to reach certain targets on standardized tests.
As Mississippi’s education department studies its application, representatives are holding several regional meetings throughout the state to provide information and gain insight.
Monday’s meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center, and will be attended by Mississippi Superintendent Tom Burnham. The meeting will be intended for the general public. A session for school board members and educators will be held from 3 to 4:30 at the same location.
Monday’s meeting is the only one of the six regional meetings that will be held in Northeast Mississippi. It is being hosted by the North Mississippi Education Consortium, or NEC.
“As I understand, this is an opportunity for school people as well as the general public to have input and satisfy any questions that might be in their mind about the importance of the No Child Left Behind law and what a waiver would mean to the average student or our school districts in our region,” said Cecil Weeks, co-director of NEC.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced in September that the federal education department would allow states to request waivers from certain requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.
Among its mandates, all students must score at least proficient in reading and math on standardized tests by 2014, a standard that most schools in the nation appear destined to miss.
To qualify for the waiver, states must meet several criteria. Burnham said Monday’s meeting will include discussions of plans to develop college and career readiness standards and to create an incentive model that would pay teachers more money if their students perform better. Both would satisfy requirements of the waiver.
Burnham said he hopes Mississippi could have its application ready by February, if it decides to apply for a waiver.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com