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State wants more ways to rate schools
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ATLANTA — After a decade of leaning on standardized test scores to determine whether schools are meeting federal benchmarks, Georgia soon may be able to overhaul how it measures success in public education.
State education officials plan to apply next month for a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements, joining a growing number of states looking for relief from the widely criticized education law. State schools Superintendent John Barge said in an interview with The Associated Press that he wants to add a long list of measures to the formula Georgia uses to determine whether a school passes muster.
That list likely will include scores on ACT and SAT college entrance exams, performance on tests for Advancement Placement and International Baccalaureate classes and success in career tech classes like automotive repair. It also could include how students perform in dual enrollment classes where they earn both high school and college credit simultaneously and scores on end-of-course exams.
The idea, Barge said, is to look at the complete picture of what schools provide students rather than just scores on one standardized test.
“What we’ve done with No Child Left Behind is teach kids how to pass a test,” Barge said. “They are far from ready for life beyond high school.”
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced that he was effectively gutting the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law by allowing states to apply for waivers from many of the law’s requirements. The sanctions in the law — which can range from offering free tutoring to closing down entirely — will remain, but states no longer will be required to have every student performing on grade level in math and English by 2014.
About 65 percent of Georgia’s schools did not make “adequate yearly progress” this year, compared to more than 70 percent last year. Most states are slipping in their performance because the bar for meeting standards goes up every year, and many states saved the biggest gains for the later years of the 2001 law.

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