OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The 2012-2013 school year is the last year school districts in Kansas and Missouri must meet No Child Left Behind standards.
Kansas recently joined Missouri and 32 other states who have asked to be waived from the federal standard.
The waiver releases districts from what some have said was an unattainable requirement: that all children be proficient by 2014.
The Blue Valley School District, in Overland Park, Kan., is the only district in the nation with 20,000 students or more to reach adequate yearly progress, or "AYP", 10 years in a row.
Superintendents said the waiver is not a "dumbing down" of expectations rather, they agreed, that Kansas' newly adopted federal curriculum standards will likely make school even tougher.
"There's a feeling that kids are capable of doing more than they're showing," Blue Valley Superintendent Tom Trigg said. "I think our politicians take a look at our international assessments and how we line up and they're concerned. So they're focusing on education, they're focusing on trying to raise standards."
Starting in the 2013-14 school year, Kansas students will be measured on a broader set of standards than they are now; on student achievement, student growth and their ability to close the achievement gap.
It will also take into account that school populations are increasingly more diverse than in decades past.
Many students today come into the classroom as "sub-groups" either with learning disabilities, special needs, learning English as a second language or with financial hardships.
"They (standards) need to be broader even though I think we still need the accountability," Olathe's Deputy Superintendent Dr. Alison Banikowski said. "That's very, very important to us but we do have students that have different needs and we want to make sure we meet those educational needs. If you're an English language learner and English is not your primary language we want to make sure you learn English as quickly as possible."
Still, under Kansas' new system,districts and schools must prove they are constantly moving ahead. Teachers must do the same if they want to keep their jobs.
The new set of standards will use student performance as a key element in evaluating teachers and principals.
Critics like Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican, said they worry, though, that adopting national curriculum creates a top heavy approach that leaves Kansans out of its own educational process.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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