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The Daily Dish: Seven States and D.C. Receive NCLB Waiver Renewals

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June 24, 2015 02:51 pm


The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.

Seven states and the District of Columbia were granted multiple year waiver renewals Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Education from a number of provisions under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). A press release on the Department of Education’s (ED) website says Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, Missouri, Kansas, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia were granted renewals as an effort to provide them with “stability as they continue to work on preparing all students for success in college, careers and life.” These states join Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia, which were granted renewals in March. More renewals are expected in the coming weeks.

“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the press release. “The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been. As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes.”

Though these states were originally granted waivers from NCLB because they “were willing to embrace the department’s vision on education redesign in areas like…dramatic school turnarounds,” Politics K-12’s Alyson Klein notes that the renewal is not necessary a sign that those states have “stayed the Obama administration’s course over the last several years.” Klein points to such things as assessment opt-outs in New York and a move away from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Missouri.

But, as the Associated Press’s Jennifer C. Kerr writes, “Schools in states with waivers wouldn’t be excused from the testing requirements but instead could develop and implement their own plans to measure progress that go beyond the required testing. The idea is to free the states from some of the more rigid parts of No Child Left Behind while Congress works on an update to the law.”

Klein also considers what the minimum three year extension (New York was given a longer extension of four years because the state remained on track with teacher evaluations) would mean for states and possibly the current ESEA law. She explains: “That would take the flexibility beyond the end of the Obama administration’s tenure. If the NCLB law hasn’t been updated by that point, it’s an open question whether the next administration—Democratic or Republican—will keep the waivers in place, go back to NCLB as written, or come up with its own plan for accountability.”

The Department said in the press release that “In the event that Congress reauthorizes ESEA, the Department will work with states to help them transition to the new law.” It adds that Duncan urges Congress to create a bipartisan law that, among other things, “Addresses funding inequities for schools that serve high proportions of low-income students.”

The Senate is still looking to reauthorize NCLB, with the Senate Education Committee rewrite, the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), expected to be voted on after the July 4 holiday. Last Thursday, thirty-six organizations, including the Alliance for Excellent Education, wrote a letter to Senate asking for a vote on the bill to revise NCLB, with the inclusion of more accountability measures and safeguards for low-performing students and schools.

The Alliance for Excellent Education finds the ECAA to be entirely too light on these critical measures, but feels there are several amendments, or “fixes,” from senators to ECAA that would ensure that all schools and students receive the support and attention they need to succeed. To learn more about these amendments and to lend your support to them, download the infographic, “Getting School Accountability Just Right: Support Amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act.”

To learn more about when to expect a vote on legislation to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, check out the latest Federal Flash video:


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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.