Decatur school leaders plan to 'flex' new Flexibility Act - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Decatur school leaders plan to 'flex' new Flexibility Act

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School leaders in Decatur are working on plans to take advantage of the Alabama Accountability Act to improve education in the city, said Superintendent Ed Nichols on Friday.

Formerly known as the "Flexibility Act," the Accountability Act allows local school systems to apply for waivers for state education regulations so they can experiment with approaches technically not permitted by the state.

Nichols said he and his administrators plan to consider new approaches to education, and all the while, "as we develop our strategic plan in our district at our schools, have that flag up that says ‘why can't we do this?'"

One issue frequently mentioned by administrators is certification of potential educators and schools' ability to recruit outside the world of officially certified, longtime career teachers. 

"Many times we're looking at opportunities to hire people in our area from the medical industry or engineering, to be able to utilize these folks as teachers for our engineering program or our medical program," Nichols said.

Nichols also predicted exercising some Flexibility Act flexibility in letting students move more readily into advanced or college studies, starting college early, taking college course online, or changing their required courses. 

"Maybe you have a student that's really engaged in mathematics," he said.  "What if you could trade out an extra mathematics course and take away one of the other domains because that's the focus of the child.  So having a little flexibility within the diploma option itself." 

Nichols said he plans to bring administrators together to consider plans at conferences and an upcoming retreat. 

He predicted the school district would draw up a list of waiver requests to send to the state Department of Education and the State School Board by the start of the school year.

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