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State submits waiver for No Child Left Behind
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Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter is hopeful the state's No Child Left Behind waiver will be approved in the near future.

"We are very appreciative of the Georgia Department of Education submitting the NCLB waiver. Almost all systems and schools would be designated as failing over the next two years without changes to the law," he said.

The state of Georgia formally submitted the waiver to the U.S. Department of Education last week, two months after presenting a proposed replacement to the 2001 No Child Left Behind legislation, the College and Career Ready Performance Index.

"Through (the index), we will be able to use multiple indicators to determine a school's overall impact on our students," State Schools Superintendent John Barge said in a news release from the Georgia Department of Education. "This approach will do more to ensure that the K-12 experience provides students with the academic preparation to compete globally, as well as the career development skills aligned with the evolving requirements of our workforce."

The index will measure the extent to which a school is making progress on a list of specific criteria, according to a Sept. 20 letter from the Georgia Department of Education to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The criteria will determine a school's score on achievement, progress and closing the achievement gap.

"Georgia educators are extremely excited that the state is proposing a more varied set of performance criteria than the existing reliance on a single test score," Porter said.

No Child Left Behind was designed to ensure all children, especially ethnic and economic minorities, received quality education. Schools were evaluated annually with an Adequate Yearly Progress model that looked at attendance, graduation rates and standardized test scores.

Dawson is one of just 49 of the state's 194 school systems that made adequate yearly progress for 2011, an achievement that makes Porter proud.

"Our students have been quite successful in meeting the goals through the years," Porter said. "But the present law indicates that 100 percent of students would have to pass the tests, as well as all students would have to graduate, to meet the existing requirements and not be considered failing."

The index would grade schools on an assortment of criteria, from test scores and attendance, to graduation rates and career/college preparation.

Georgia's index comes on the heels of two different pieces of state regulation, House Bill 400 and House Bill 186, which establish more career exploration and education throughout middle and high school grades.

The index calculations will be given to Georgia schools and systems to establish a baseline for the following school year.

DCN regional staff contributed to this story.