North Dakota Withdraws Application for NCLB Waiver

North Dakota has withdrawn its application for a waiver from the provisions of the No Child Left Behind act, announced the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler. ND had applied for a waiver late last year under Baesler's predecessor Wayne Sanstead.

Baesler said that she halted the process because she didn't think it would be right for the state to adapt yet another "one-size-fits-all" education solution.

The Bismarck Tribune is reporting that there had been conflict between the state and the U.S. Department of Education over the proposed plan to reduce the number of underperforming students in the state. Since the waiver application has been withdrawn, North Dakota will now have to face up to the requirements laid out by the NCLB, which means that a growing number of its schools will be considered failing and trigger required turnaround efforts.

The main disagreement between state and federal officials, has to do with the number of non-proficient students to be reduced over time, Baesler said.

The state's application listed a goal of a 25 percent reduction over six years. The Department of Education asked state officials to change it to 50 percent .

State officials and members of a state No Child Left Behind planning committee "believe a 25 percent reduction over six years is educationally sound, reasonable, and achievable," Baesler said.

The rest of the planning committee backed Baesler's move to withdraw the application with North Dakota Executive Director Jon Martinson saying that if every state applied and got an NCLB waiver, no more pressure remained on Congress to finally reauthorize the sweeping K-12 legislation. Although he admitted that the NCLB is a failure, he said that the plan the federal government wants the states to adopt will prove to be even more of one.

Draper said the waiver process didn't happen, still has been enormously beneficial. He cited the numerous "engaged and meaningful discussions" happening across the state.

Additionally, Baesler said, the Department of Public Instruction will continue with two aspects of its plan created for the waiver application — implementing Common Core State Standards for improving college readiness and establishing a teacher and administrator evaluation system.

The department is prepared to help those schools that will be considered failing under the No Child Left Behind requirements, she said.

Education officials in North Dakota are examining alternatives even considering the test taken recently by Texas which drafted a resolution requesting that its education system be exempt from federal requirements and oversight. Unfortunately, such freedom of action does not come free, and by asking to be released from these obligations, the state would be giving up federal education funding that totaled $120 million in fiscal year 2011.

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