26 states and the District of Columbia have formally submitted requests to the U.S. Department of Education for waivers from some of the most difficult requirements from the No Child Left Behind education law.
This comes after 10 states and the state of New Mexico have been granted waivers. The Obama Administration has announced the implementation of new education reforms that will be necessary in exchange for relief from burdensome federal mandates. The states must prove its plans to raise standards, improve accountability, and support reforms to improve principal and teacher effectiveness.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, said:
"The best ideas to meet the needs of individual students are going to come from the local level. 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."
To have their plans approved, the states must:
- Set performance targets based on students' high school graduation and college readiness 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.
- Have more flexibility in how they spend federal funds to benefit students.
The flexibility initiative was granted to the U.S. Department of Education in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It was developed with input from state and other education leaders across America and further comprehensive reforms, outlined in President Obama's Blueprint for Reform, await Congressional reauthorization of the ESEA.
The 26 states now seeking waivers are 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 D.C.
The states will be notified later this spring. The deadline for the third round of flexibility requests will be Sept. 6.