For the last two years, the Education Department has been using waivers to grant states lenience in the face of the looming repercussions of No Child Left Behind (2001). This process seems likely to continue until Congress does a re-write of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the most recent version of which is NCLB. However, the Education Department has recently rolled back some of its previous demands tied to continued waivers for states. While this rollback may appease state education agencies and those who dislike the way the waivers provide the Education Department with unprecedented power, it is unlikely to appease those who demand reforms of American education that focus on equity.
Back in August, the ED announced two reforms designed to ensure that underprivileged students had equal access to the most effective teachers. This is from an Education Week article about the waiver changes:
In guidelines released in August that govern the process for renewing a waiver, the department planned to require states, by October 2015, to use teacher-evaluation data to ensure that poor and minority students are not taught by ineffective teachers at a higher rate than their peers. The department also planned to require states and districts to improve the use of federal Title II funds for professional development, with a requirement that districts spend the money on “evidence-based” programs and link them to new college- and career-ready standards.
These are the plans that, after listening to state feedback, the ED decided to remove. However, aware of how civil rights and equity groups would likely respond, the ED also has announced plans for a 50 state effort to target equity issues. Again, from Education Week:
By the end of January, department officials say, they will have begun a process of putting teeth into existing Title I and Title II laws. (For example, the NCLB law currently requires that states have approved equity plans as part of the “highly qualified” teacher provision.) And in another important change, the waiver renewals will be for only one year; the original plan was for a two-year extension of the waivers. States will have until the end of February—or 60 days after they get their federal monitoring report—to apply for a waiver extension.
Look for more details of the 50 state plan (which will include those 8 states who have not accepted waivers), which is most likely to concern schools providing evidence that they are ensuring that the most effective teachers are teaching underprivileged students as much as they are teaching other students, to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
For more information, please visit: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/11/education_department_plans_to_.html?utm_source=Pi+Lambda+Theta&utm_campaign=4dd4c524f4-PLT_The_Cheat_Sheet_11_20_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4688c92226-4dd4c524f4-32437665