LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy is seeking to leverage the district’s move toward teacher-accountability standards into more freedom on how to spend
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy is seeking to leverage the district's move toward teacher-accountability standards into more freedom on how to spend tens of millions in federal dollars. (File photo by John McCoy/Staff Photographer)
LOS ANGELES -- With California unable to get a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law, LAUSD and nine other districts have launched an effort to create their own data-based accountability systems -- and have more freedom in how to spend tens of millions in federal dollars.

No Child requires that students pass English and math tests by 2014-15 -- a standard that many of the state's education leaders believe is unrealistic.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy met Wednesday with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to discuss granting waivers to a consortium of 10 districts that together serve more than 1 million students. Long Beach Unified is also part of the consortium, which calls itself the California Office to Reform Education.

"We had a fantastic meeting," Deasy said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. "Secretary Duncan said he welcomes the opportunity to work with us, which I see as a positive sign."

Deasy said waivers would lift restrictions on how they can spend federal Title I -- some $83 million for LAUSD. Currently, the money is earmarked for tutoring and remedial programs, but only a small fraction of eligible students take advantage of the help.

California's waiver request was denied in December after state leaders refused to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores.

Los Angeles Unified has just launched a new performance-based evaluation, and the other consortium members would have to create similar systems in order to qualify for a waiver.