On May 29, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that eight more states have been granted flexibility from key provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and a career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership. Including this latest batch of eight states—Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island—nineteen states have been granted waivers under NCLB. Eighteen additional applications are still under review.
“These eight additional states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all federal mandates in order to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” Duncan said.
At a news conference in Hartford announcing the waivers, Duncan called Connecticut’s application one of the “strongest and most innovative.” According to the Hartford Courant, Duncan mentioned several aspects of Connecticut’s recent education reforms, including improving access to early childhood education, turning around low-performing schools, and developing meaningful teacher evaluation. If Connecticut lawmakers had not passed these and other reforms, “I don’t think I would have been here,” the article quotes Duncan as saying.
Duncan also took the time to offer a critique of NCLB, saying that it was “very, very punitive” and led to a “dumbing down of standards and narrowing of the curriculum,” the article reports.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education, Duncan said that many of the new state-created accountability systems capture more students at risk, including low-income students, students with disabilities, and English language learners.
The eleven states previously granted waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.