As Congress continues to work on a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), twenty-six new states and the District of Columbia (DC) formally submitted requests to the U.S. Department of Education for waivers from key provisions of NCLB on February 29. Those states are in addition to the eleven states to which the Obama administration granted waivers on February 9.
“The best ideas to meet the needs of individual students are going to come from the local level,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Like the first round of waiver applicants, these plans will protect children, raise the bar, and give states the freedom to implement reforms that improve student achievement.”
The latest batch of states—Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin—along with DC, submitted plans to raise standards, improve accountability, and support reforms to improve principal and teacher effectiveness.
According to a U.S. Department of Education press release, these twenty-six states and DC will
- set performance targets based on whether students graduate from high school ready for college and career rather than having to meet NCLB’s 2014 deadline based on arbitrary targets for proficiency;
- design locally tailored interventions to help students achieve instead of one-size-fits-all remedies prescribed at the federal level;
- be free to emphasize student growth and progress using multiple measures rather than just test scores; and
- have more flexibility in how they spend federal funds to benefit students.
The twenty-seven waiver requests will be posted online at http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility along with the names of the peer reviewers who will convene next month to review them. States seeking flexibility in the second round will be notified later this spring.
Only thirteen states have yet to request waivers from the U.S. Department of Education. Additional states are expected to do so by September 6 for the third round of review.
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