DOE Awards Six States NCLB Extension Waivers

Six states — Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, and South Dakota – received an extension on their No Child Left Behind waivers for the 2014-2015 school year from US Department of Education last week.

States may receive a waiver by creating a plan to meet certain reform goals such as holding low-performing schools accountable and employing standards that will prepare students for college and future careers.  The states also agree to update plans for teacher effectiveness.

“ESEA flexibility has allowed states to move beyond the one-size-fits-all mandates of NCLB, to be more innovative, and to engage in continued improvement in ways that benefit educators and students,” US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement Thursday. “As a result, we have seen a renewed focus by states on improving student achievement and to address the needs of all students, especially those groups of students that have been historically underserved,” he said.

A letter confirming the extension discussed the effectiveness of Virginia in carrying out reforms that improved student achievement statewide.  If Virginia continues with these improvements, the state will be eligible for a longer renewal of their waiver next year, reports Michael Alison Chandler for The Washington Post.

The Associated Press reported that Connecticut’s waiver which will help as it implements Common Core standards statewide.  Opponents claim with less local control over education, more ideas are launched from those who are not working in the actual classrooms.

Eight states received conditional waivers, meaning part of their plan is still under review.  One of these states is Arkansas, who did receive an extension, however, the Department of Education is still reviewing its plans for teacher evaluations, according to Peter Urban for The Times Record.

“I am confident that Arkansas will continue to implement the reforms described in its approved ESEA flexibility request and advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students,” she [Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle] said. 

Six other states, Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Maine and West Virginia, received a one-year freeze on rising targets for standardized test scores.  These states either did not complete the waiver application process, or their waiver was denied.