First school year begins after Virginia granted waiver from No Child Left Behind

Posted at 4:18 PM, Sep 03, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-03 16:24:40-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) — As the new school year draws closer, many parents in Central Virginia are keeping a close eye on changes coming to the ‘No Child Left Behind’ program across the Commonwealth. 

Many are already familiar with the federal education mandate, but earlier this year Virginia was granted a waiver from the law.  This means the state will not face sanctions if they fail to ensure all students are proficient in math and reading by 2014.

Instead Virginia is coming up with its own plan to help struggling students succeed in the classroom with Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs).  The AMOs are based off math and reading test results from previous years. 

“The Board’s (of Education) intent was to provide yearly objectives that would enable students in the lowest performing schools to make significant progress in closing the gap that separates them from students in our highest performing schools,” said Virginia Department of Education Communications Director Charles Pyle.

However according to recent reports from the state NAACP, the Virginia Department of Education’s proposal lowers the annual pass rate goals for students of color with 52 percent of Latinos required to pass and 48 percent of African-
American students required.  Representatives with the NAACP have said the low rates could lower the student expectations. 

But those with the department of education said they are looking for a way to help all students succeed.

“We have students that perform at different levels for a variety of reasons,” said Pyle.  “And the thinking here is to provide annual objectives for raising the performance of those students that are actually related to their performance–as opposed to arbitrary.”

Several parents who spoke with CBS 6 News said they want to implement a policy that’s best and beneficial for their children.

“We need to close the gap yes but we also need to make accomodations for those children that do move more quickly,” said parent of three Amanda Kendrick.  “A different way of setting up classes so that children who do move more slowly are all in one class together, and the children that are prepared to move more quickly can do so.”

“Being a black mother with a black child basically you are setting our standards lower than what they should excel,” said parent of one Regina Barbour.  “I do teach my daughter to excel and I feel we do have to push harder just because of our race.  And I really don’t think that that’s fair, and my daughter should have a fair share as anyone else in this world.”

The Virginia Board of Education is planning to revisit the Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) during it’s September 27 meeting.