SACRAMENTO -- State schools Chief Tom Torlakson has asked for a reprieve from No Child Left Behind.
Torlakson sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Tuesday asking that California be granted a waiver from the law's mandates, California Department Office of Education officials announced Thursday.
"Relief is needed immediately before more schools suffer for another school year under inappropriate labels and ineffective intervention," Torlakson said.
Schools that don't meet the mandates over multiple years can be closed or have their staff's replaced.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Education announced recently that states will be offered relief from the statue if they can demonstrate they are invoking reform that includes adopting college- and career-ready standards, using and developing teacher data that incorporates student test scores and developing a new accountability system.
Torlakson said these conditions "present problems for California" and says the state is "working hard to develop" an accountability system.
The waiver requirements don't come with any federal funding, making them difficult to implement, he wrote.
In August, federal officials stripped the state of the entire three-year grant for the California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System, or CALTIDES, after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the use of $2.1 million in federal funding for it in this year's budget.
The governor's veto message said the system wasn't critical.
In the meantime, the Legislature is debating the best way to measure accountability. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wants to use an accountability system called the Education Quality Index. He authored SB 547 to create an index incorporating graduation and promotion rates, test scores, college preparedness and career readiness.
Torlakson said that 4,600 or 80 percent of the state's schools that receive federal Title 1 funds will be in improvement status for the 2011-2012 school year.
"Even more are expected to fail Adequate Yearly Progress over the next few years as targets rise, and as such, the federally imposed labels cease to provide any meaningful information to stakeholders, who deserve a more comprehensive understanding of a school's performance," Torlakson wrote.