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CORE Districts to Make Big Changes to Try to Win NCLB Waiver

The nine California districts seeking their own version of a No Child Left Behind Act waiver plan to make significant changes to their request to increase their odds of winning this flexibility.

Armed with feedback from the U.S. Department of Education's outside peer reviewers, the districts say they will no longer only factor in test scores of the last grade in each school for accountability purposes. This was one of the more radical ideas in the proposal submitted by these "CORE" districts, which stands for California Office to Reform Education. The districts include Fresno, Los Angeles, and Sacremento.

Mostly, the peer reviewers wanted far more details about everything—from how other districts could join CORE at a later time to how the districts would identify focus and priority schools for interventions, according to CORE's synopsis of their feedback.

It's worth noting that the CORE districts are refusing to turn over the feedback letter that federal officials sent them, contrary to what most other states have done. See Education Week's story about individual state letters that many released here. Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for CORE, said the districts will share that letter when they have revised their proposal. "As you can imagine, the parties who are opposing district-level waivers are looking for any opportunity to criticize, and we worry that if we don't release the peer review and our responsive update at the same time we will face a 'death by a thousand paper cuts' situation," she wrote me in an email.

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