500 L.A. Schools Labeled As ‘Failing’

Source: Barbara Jones / The Huffington Post

In response to concerns raised by federal regulators, Los Angeles Unified and eight other school districts have filed an amended application for a waiver from a federal law requiring that all students be proficient in English and math by 2014.

The coalition dubbed the California Office to Reform Education is seeking an exemption from key academic provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, which has labeled 500 schools in Los Angeles and thousands more statewide as failing. If approved by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the waiver would take effect in the fall and would be the first ever granted to a group of districts, which together educate 1.1 million students.

Currently, based on standardized tests, just half of the students in LAUSD are considered proficient in English and 52 percent are proficient in math. Benchmarks in No Child Left Behind give the district just one year to raise those totals to 100 percent.

The waiver would lift that proficiency mandate and also would give districts more freedom in how they can spend about $110 million in federal money now earmarked for improving student achievement at low-income schools. Money now spent to hire outside tutors or bus kids to better schools could be spent instead to train teachers or hold summer school classes.

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