Posted on December 7, 2015

By John Fensterwald

The half-dozen California districts in the collaborative known as CORE last week introduced a new index for rating school and student achievement that will include measurements of school climate and culture as well as students’ social skills and attitudes toward learning.

The first scores will be issued when the index is released in February. If allowed to continue after that, the School Quality Improvement System could become an alternative model for school improvement and inter-district collaboration in a new era of federal and state accountability. Or it could end up a one-time experiment that dies with the expected expiration next year of the law that spawned it, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Several years in the making, the CORE index is one of the requirements of the only waiver from the sanctions of NCLB that the U.S. Department of Education granted to school districts. All other waivers were granted to states. The six waiver districts in CORE, the California Office to Reform Education, are some of the state’s largest districts – Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno, Santa Ana, San Francisco and Oakland – ­­with a total of nearly 1 million students. But if, as expected, Congress approves and President Barack Obama soon signs a successor to NCLB, the districts’ waiver would end after the

current school year, and CORE would then need the approval of the State Board of Education to continue an accountability system that would deviate from the one that the state board is currently developing.

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