After a decade in which the federal No Child Left Behind law was used in an attempt to improve schools throughout the nation, it is clear the effort was a complete flop. Here in West Virginia, students' scores on standardized tests have shown little or no improvement.
State officials are ready to try something else.
To obtain a waiver from NCLB rules, the state must convince federal officials it plans to use a good alternative. Work on a proposal to that effect is in progress.
Part of it will be a new system for evaluating whether public school teachers are doing good jobs. A bill in the Legislature would put a new program in place by the 2013-14 school year.
The proposed teacher evaluation system already is being used on a trial basis in 25 schools.
A major change between it and the NCLB formula is that less emphasis will be placed on how well students do on standardized tests. Just 5 percent of a teacher's evaluation would be based on how well his or her students perform on tests. Another 15 percent would be based on students' academic growth.
Part of the evaluation system would rely on career goal plans filed by teachers.
Before the plan is adopted, a variety of questions need to be answered. Just how will students' growth be measured? What does a career goal have to do with how well students perform?
Yes, NCLB was a failure. Whatever West Virginia uses to replace it must be an improvement.