The Obama Administration has approved seven more requests for waivers from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. The waivers were granted in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and post-graduation work, with a particular focus on the neediest students, and the establishment of an evaluation system for teachers and principals which takes account of student test scores.
The newly approved states are Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, and South Carolina. The District of Columbia’s waiver was also approved.
The new waivers bring the total number of states who have been exempted from NCLB requirements to 32. President Obama first announced in September 2011 that his administration would grant waivers to qualifying states and an initial round of waivers were granted in February 2012. The waiver system was introduced after Congress failed to reach an agreement on updating and renewing the education law.
“More and more states can’t wait any longer for education reform” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “A strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act remains the best path forward in education reform, but as these states have demonstrated, our kids can’t wait any longer for Congress to act.”
The states that have already been granted a waiver in previous rounds are: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
There are five states with outstanding waiver requests that are still under review: California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, and Nevada.
In California, 66% of public schools failed to meet No Child Left Behind testing targets last year. The state submitted a waiver request in May asking the federal government to stop labeling its schools as failing, give districts flexibility on how to spend federal funds and allow educators to use state rather than federal measures for academic improvement.
California’s Department of Education estimates that federal requirements to receive a waiver could cost the state as much as $3 billion.
California’s request is unique, and it would be a significant departure from the federal Department of Education’s states standards were they to grant it.
Iowa’s original waiver request was denied last month after the Legislature denied the Iowa Department of Education the authority to ensure implementation of teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.
The remaining 13 states have not requested a waiver yet. These states are: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. Vermont withdrew its request.