NCLB waiver provides Michigan districts with more flexibility

The federal government has relaxed some of Michigan's requirements under the so-called "No Child Left Behind Act," allowing more flexibility in how local school districts spend federal education dollars, the Michigan Department of Education announced this week.

Under the move, school districts with one of more "Priority" or "Focus" schools will no longer be required to set aside 20 percent of their federal Title I funds to provide transportation for schools of choice. 
 
Focus Schools are the 10 percent of Michigan schools with the largest achievement gaps between the top 30 percent and bottom 30 percent of students, while Priority Schools comprise the schools in the bottom five percent of the state's rankings.
 
In addition, the state Department of Education will revise the calculations for its "Top to Bottom" list of schools, in an effort to minimize the effect of what it calls "outlier scores." Revising these metrics will address situations where a school ranked in the state's 75th percentile could still be considered a Focus School. The revision will also allow the state to remove the Focus School designation from a school whose bottom 30 percent outperform the state average in at least two subjects. 
 
Finally, the state will revise requirements that mandate Focus Schools set aside increasing percentages of their Title I funds for academic intervention strategies. 
 
The new NCLB waiver "allows local school districts more freedom in how they use some of their federal dollars to improve student achievement and close achievement gaps," the state Department of Education said in a statement.