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FLEX PLAN: Eleven States Submit Requests for Waivers from Key NCLB Provisions

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“Clearly, there’s tremendous urgency for reform at the local level because our economy and our future are directly tied to the quality of public education. States and districts want flexibility from NCLB so they can make local decisions in the best interests of children—and they can’t wait any longer.”

On November 15, the U.S. Department of Education announced that eleven states—Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee—formally submitted requests for waivers from key provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). These states will be notified by mid-January or earlier as to whether their plans have been accepted. States not applying during this first round can do so in mid-February.

With a rewrite of NCLB still pending in Congress, President Obama outlined a plan on September 23 to provide states with flexibility from specific provisions of the law in exchange for state-led reform efforts to close achievement gaps, evaluate teachers and principals, promote rigorous accountability, and ensure that all students are on track to graduate from high school ready for college and a career.

“We set a high bar and an aggressive deadline, but these states rose to the challenge,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Clearly, there’s tremendous urgency for reform at the local level because our economy and our future are directly tied to the quality of public education. States and districts want flexibility from NCLB so they can make local decisions in the best interests of children—and they can’t wait any longer.”

If their plans are approved, these eleven states will set performance targets to graduate students from high school ready for college and a career rather than having to meet NCLB’s 2014 deadline of 100 percent of students being proficient in math and reading; designing locally tailored interventions for schools instead of one-size-fits-all remedies prescribed at the federal level; being free to measure school progress using multiple measures rather than just test scores; and having more flexibility in how they spend Title I dollars.

More information on the announcement is available at http://1.usa.gov/uJxo1D.

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