By SEANNA ADCOX
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The federal Education Department has approved Superintendent Mick Zais' plan for evaluating teachers and principals in South Carolina.
Zais spokesman Jay Ragley on Tuesday called the validation from the Democratic administration a significant achievement that should put to rest partisan fears. But advocates for teachers and principals continue to blast the plan as invalid and unreliable.
Evaluating educators based on performance is a required part of the state's exemption from the all-or-nothing provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
South Carolina's request for flexibility got federal approval in July. Last week, the U.S. Education Department OK'd the state's specific plan for evaluations.
The guidelines are being preliminarily tested in 22 districts this year. The state Board of Education must approve the details before they're implemented statewide in 2014.