Nashville schools are applauding the state's move to opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The Metro Nashville Public Schools system has once again been labeled "failing," but it says it has a plan to change that.
Metro leaders say leaving behind No Child Left Behind will help the district focus on what's important. Metro Nashville did not make adequate yearly progress last year, and 55 schools are considered to be failing.
So the state is asking for a waiver from the federal law.
"I think the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) status, the way it's currently done and projected for the next couple of years, is outdated and not really appropriate for the state of Tennessee," said MNPS Director Dr. Jesse Register.
Metro leaders say No Child Left Behind causes people to lose sight of the progress being made, and that Tennessee should be able to use its own approaches laid out in Race to the Top. That includes tracking overall student achievement and graduation rates.
Metro Schools are now in what's called "Restructuring One," which normally means the state would take over the district.
But Register says state leaders think Metro is moving in the right direction.
"Commissioner (Kevin) Huffman and I have had specific conversations about that since he's been in Tennessee, and he continues to assure us that the strategies we are using are good and there are no plans for the state to take over MNPS," Register said.
The district says it has formed an aggressive plan to turn around all 55 of those failing schools. But 10 of those schools are going to get special attention in what's called the Innovation Cluster.
All 55 failing schools will be subject to an aggressive turnaround strategy, and they will work with companies that have had worldwide success.
"We start with a set of 55, but these are good strategies for schools, good strategies for school improvement. Our goal as a long range plan is to institutionalize these strategies," Register said.
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