Education Dept. stands by Oregon 'high risk' label

Education Dept. stands by Oregon 'high risk' label

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Obama administration is standing by its determination that Oregon is at risk of failing to comply with its waiver from the federal "No Child Left Behind" education law.

The U.S. Department of Education told Oregon in August that the state was at "high risk" of losing its waiver because the state has not fulfilled a promise to bring teacher and principal evaluation systems up to federal standards.

Oregon officials asked the Obama administration to drop the high-risk label, noting their efforts to comply with the federal mandates. The administration, however, rejected that request in a letter dated Monday.

If the state fails to convince federal officials it has met the waiver requirements, it might have to return to the original federal rules that require every school and every district to meet a group of benchmarks for kids in various ethnic and economic groups.

"We are disappointed that the U.S. Department of Education didn't choose to remove our high-risk status," said Rob Saxton, the deputy superintendent of Oregon schools. "We don't believe we are at any risk for not meeting these requirements. We are on track to meet the deadlines, goals and objectives laid out in our waiver."

The sticking point has been Oregon's delay in adopting a statewide method for including student growth as a significant factor in its teacher and principal evaluations.

State officials have said they have no interest in creating a system that evaluates teachers primarily on the basis of standardized test results. But so far there has been no consensus on a model.

More than two dozen school districts have been "piloting" different approaches. The state Education Department plans to evaluate the results in the coming months and make a recommendation that will be submitted to federal government May 1.

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