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Nearly 75 Percent of States Plan to Request Waivers from No Child Left Behind Requirements

Thirty-seven states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have notified the U.S. Department of Education (the department) of their intent to seek waivers from specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). According to the plan President Obama outlined on September 23, states will receive 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 ready for college and a career.

Based on a document released by the department, seventeen states say they would request a waiver by November 14, while eighteen states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico say they would request a waiver by mid-February. Connecticut and Oregon notified the department of their intent to request a waiver but have yet to determine a date by which they will submit their request. The department will review requests received by November 14 in December, while requests submitted in February will be reviewed in the spring. Because a state’s indication of its intent to request a wavier is nonbinding, a state may decide not to request a waiver.

While discussing the draft legislation to rewrite NCLB released on October 11, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said the proposed legislation was preferable to waivers because it would hold all states to the same expectations rather than the case-by-case scenario that the waiver process offers.

For more information on the waiver process, including a table showing which states have applied for waivers, visit

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