Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

Nevada Granted Waiver From Federal Education Requirements In Exchange For New Accountability Measures

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:35 pm August 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The U.S. Department of Education today approved Nevada’s request for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for state-developed accountability measures.

Nevada’s accountability plan is designed to prepare all students for college and career readiness, substantially raise the achievement of the lowest achieving students, and support effective teaching and administration.

Nevada’s state-developed plan creates the Nevada School Performance Framework, a new system for classifying, rewarding, and supporting school performance. In addition to looking at student proficiency, Nevada will now be able to analyze and use student growth data and other measures in determining school and district success.

“This next generation accountability system is a central lever in statewide efforts to substantially elevate student performance,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Guthrie. “This system was built through robust collaboration with key partners, together with whom we will re-engineer Nevada’s educational system to realize true college and career readiness for all students.”

Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction James Guthrie.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said: “Today is a new day for education in Nevada. Nevada’s ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Waiver creates an accountability system that improves student achievement and reflects Nevada’s education values and goals. I congratulate and thank the Nevada Department of Education for working with stakeholders to ensure we put Nevada’s children first.”

In order to obtain a waiver, states were required to meet certain conditions including adoption of the Common Core State Standards, which Nevada had adopted in June 2010, as well as the creation of a statewide system for evaluating teacher and administrator performance that relies in part on student achievement data. Nevada passed such legislation in June 2011.

Washoe County Schools Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the district is pleased with the decision to grant the waiver.

“(The) Washoe County School District was very involved with the development of the waiver application, and we are excited about the new accountability framework,” he said. “The Nevada School Performance Framework is built around student growth, which provides a more complete picture of student achievement.”

Martinez said the new accountability system, “will allow us to continue to focus on continuous improvement at schools throughout Washoe County so that every child receives a high-quality education that readies them for college and highly-skilled careers.”

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia are now approved for waivers from the act in exchange for new accountability measures.

“Nevada joins the growing number of states who can’t wait any longer for education reform, and we’re thrilled that more than 1 million new students will now be protected under these 34 flexibility plans,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We still remain hopeful that Congress will come together to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but we know states need this relief now.”

President Obama announced in September of 2011 that his administration would grant waivers from NCLB to qualified states. The first requests for waivers were granted in February of 2012. Four additional requests are still under review, and there is still time for other states to apply. States have until Sept. 6 to apply for the next round of waivers.

Bill To Improve Accountability In State Contracting Wins Assembly Approval

By Sean Whaley | 8:33 pm April 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A bill aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in state contracting passed the Assembly by a deadline today and will now be considered in the Senate.

Assembly Bill 240, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, passed on a 40-2 vote.

“In these times of economic and budgetary challenges, it is more critical than ever that we take every step possible to use taxpayer revenue effectively, save money, and improve state services,” Smith said. “Bringing state contracting out into the open for all to see and establishing a cooling off period for state employees are great steps forward for accomplishing those goals.”

AB240 changes the definition of “consultant” to make sure the state contracting process is transparent and state agencies are held accountable for the contracts they award. The legislation would help prevent state contractors from receiving contracts in excess of what can be done in-house by state employees.  The bill would also extend the cooling off period before a retired state employee could contract with the state to two years.

AB240 would also explicitly permit auditing of all contracts in which persons are employed by the state. The terms of employment contracts would be publicly available, ensuring more transparency, holding the state accountable, and preventing abuses. The bill requires school districts to report their use of consultants as well. Additionally, the legislation would require that anyone who does business with the state must go through the business portal provided by the Secretary of State’s office to obtain a Nevada business license.

The legislation was prompted by an audit of Nevada state agencies using current and former employees as contractors. It identified numerous potential concerns, including a case of one worker seeking payment for 25 hours of work in one 24-hour day.

The audit also found an example of a current state employee earning $62,590 as a contractor in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 while earning a state salary as well.

The audit identified 250 current and former employees providing services to the state. These employees were paid a total of $11.6 million during fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the years covered by the review.