"This is wonderful news for Georgia's students, educators and parents," Barge said in a press release. "No longer will we be bound by the narrow definitions of success found in No Child Left Behind. We will now be able to hold schools accountable and reward them for the work they do in all subjects and with all students."
Barge joined nine other state school chiefs at the White House for the announcement. Georgia is among a group of only 10 states to receive a waiver from NCLB.
Also on Thursday, Cartersville City School Board Policy Committee Chairman Travis Popham recommended the change from 28 to 24 credit hours required for graduation -- the next step in the transition from the block to period schedule.
The recommendation was made during the board's regular work session. The board will vote on the graduation requirements Monday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. during the board's regular business session.
"This waiver will give Georgia the flexibility we need to pursue our goals of student achievement. We appreciate the cooperation of federal officials as we seek to prepare young Georgians for higher education and the jobs of tomorrow," Gov. Nathan Deal said in the release.
According to the release, "As part of the waiver, the Georgia Department of Education will begin identifying Priority Schools, Focus Schools and Reward Schools. Achievement data from all core content areas and graduation rate data will be used to identify these schools. At the end of this current school year, these Priority Schools and Focus Schools will replace current Needs Improvement Schools. Reward Schools will replace the current Distinguished Schools designation and will be announced in September.
"Georgia also will identify Alert Schools in three categories: Subgroup Alert Schools, Subject Alert Schools and Graduation Alert Schools. These Alert Schools will be identified based on a more detailed evaluation of subgroup performance."
College and Career Ready Performance Index
Georgia also will begin using the College and Career Ready Performance Index next school year for statewide accountability. The Priority Schools, Focus Schools and Reward Schools will be reported within the CCRPI. The GaDOE immediately will begin working with educators across the state to define specific calculations for the CCRPI.
Highlights from Georgia's waiver:
* Continue development and refinement of the College and Career Ready Performance Index during 2012
* Identify Reward, Priority and Focus Schools
* Identify Alert Schools, which are unique to Georgia and provide greater emphasis on subgroup performance
* Use all core content areas (state assessments) in the identification of Priority, Focus and Alert Schools
* Set Performance Targets to replace the Annual Measurable Objectives under Adequate Yearly Progress
* Exercise greater flexibility with federal funding
* Authorize districts to provide Flexible Learning Programs in place of Supplemental Education Services providers
* Follow state law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-2130) relative to school choice
* Include Reward, Priority, Focus and Alert status on the CCRPI
* Implement CCRPI as Georgia's state accountability system during 2012-2013