State officials want to get West Virginia off the failed federal No Child Left Behind education reform merry-go-round, and that is a good idea. West Virginia residents have heard little about how the state can do a better job.
After being in force for a decade, NCLB has resulted in little discernable improvement in public education, even by the standardized-test gauge prescribed by the law. Almost undoubtedly, if state officials apply for a waiver from NCLB, they will be granted one.
State Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple has said a waiver will be sought. Federal approval of a replacement state plan will be requested later this year.
In the meantime, details of just how the state will go about school reform must be worked out.
Critical to the process is determining how student achievement will be measured. Again, NCLB relied heavily on standardized test results, which also were used to evaluate the work of teachers.
A new teacher evaluation system, using standardized test results for just 15 percent of the final result, probably will be used in West Virginia. Marple and other officials have said they want evaluations to reflect continuing growth by students.
But how? Even in the classroom, most teachers use tests to decide whether students are learning the required material. If testing is being de-emphasized, how will growth be measured? That question needs to be answered adequately before legislators allow Marple and the state Department of Education to proceed.
Legislators also should insist the DOE react positively to the contents of an independently prepared "audit" of public education. It contains a variety of recommendations for increased efficiency - but Marple and others in the DOE already have objected to some of its contents.
For too long, the education establishment in West Virginia was allowed to go its merry way in public schools. There are signs legislators have had enough of that. They should insist on oversight of the school reform process - and, if necessary, should wield the veto power they hold along with the authority to make laws and appropriate taxpayers' money.