Iowa takes first step in dropping No Child Left Behind laws - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa takes first step in dropping No Child Left Behind laws

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The leaders in Iowa's education reform jumped one big hurdle Tuesday, but the biggest challenges are still to come.

Tuesday Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass and other department leaders submitted the waiver application to opt out of the No Child Left Behind laws.

State leaders say the No Child Left Behind Act isn't working for Iowa's education system. They say while it has addressed some problems in districts across the nation, it has unrealistic measures that rely too heavily on standardized test scores to rate schools.

Now it's up to Iowa leaders to design a better plan.

It's a delicate process because they don't want to replace bad federal policy with bad state policy.

During a press conference Tuesday, Glass said his waiver includes a plan to increase accountability. It also includes new testing requirements for 11th graders.

According to Glass, the plan does assume lawmakers will pass education reforms this session. If these reforms aren't approved Glass will have to withdraw the waiver.

Glass also wants yearly evaluations for principals and new teachers.

Some teachers worry that those reviews could still be too closely tied to student test scores.

"Teachers are not technicians. We are like doctors and lawyers. We know what we're doing," Des Moines teacher Mona Thompson said. "We know how to reach the children. We know how to improve their scores, but we don't look at the scores. We look at each individual child."

Lawmakers have to pass a set of reforms to make this plan happen or the director of education has to rescind his waiver request from the federal government.

Director of Education Jason Glass says that if lawmakers can find agreement to pass a plan, he expects to hear from the feds by spring whether Iowa gets the waiver to move forward with its own reforms.

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