Illinois is still trying to get out of the federal No Child Left Behind law. As it waits, the state's taking a new step to get an exemption from the program's most controversial component. It would mean schools won't get punished if students score better on standardized tests. Thirty-three states have been granted waivers from No Child Left Behind, but Illinois is one of a handful that wants to put in place its own accountability system and is still waiting for approval. State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus says the sticking point is when Illinois will begin a new way to evaluate teachers. The feds want Illinois to have it in place by the school year that starts in 20-14. But a carefully negotiated Illinois law means all districts won't use the new method of teacher evaluations until two years later:
"Teachers and principals across the state are busy just getting training on how to do those evaluations and we know that that is a complex process and it will take some time."
Fergus says Illinois is continuing to negotiate with the feds, but in the meantime it's applying for a new waiver. This one will seek to be released from the most controversial aspect of No Child Left Behind: the part that requires students continually improve on standardized tests. Fergus says Illinois will seek to freeze its benchmarks to last school year's levels.
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