The Recent Influx of ED Waivers, and more to come

nclb.ashxThe Education Department has recently released news of extensions given to states which had previously received NCLB waivers. So, in essence, ED is providing another year to states to achieve the changes they agreed to achieve when they first obtained waivers.

This blog has written extensively in the past about the waiver process. Opinions are mixed about whether they will help states improve instruction for students.  Many argue that they are necessary to help states deal with the nearly impossible demands associated with No Child Left Behind. Many others argue that the waivers amount to a power grab by the Education Department who gains unprecedented leverage until Congress restructures and reauthorizes a follow up bill to No Child Left Behind. See the following link for previous blog posts about the waivers:

The current delays being allowed by the Education Department concern those states who had been granted initial NCLB waivers but who also won federal Race to the Top grant monies.  ED had been less willing to provide further delays to these states both because states only won those grants because they agreed to certain federal terms, which they now want even more time to implement, and because last June ED set up a streamlined process designed to aid states in their quest to comply with federal stipulations.

Despite that hesitancy, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and South Carolina have now all been given an extra year to link teacher evaluations to personnel decisions—the stipulation given in the Race to the Top grants.

Not all states have been so lucky. Both Utah and Arkansas’ pleas for another year were rejected due to the fact that they each asked for more than the streamlined process begun last June allowed. According to Education Week, “Utah wants to delay its pilot for its student-growth percentiles and student learning objectives, along with full implementation of its student-growth measure, to the 2016-17 school year. And Arkansas wants to delay the use of its student-growth measure until the 2015-16 school year.”

Other states are still waiting to hear from the Education Department about delays.  These states include: Maryland, Kansas, Washington, and South Dakota.

In addition, ED recently granted seven more states “a waiver that allows them to forgo double testing their students with state exams and field tests from the assessment consortia during spring testing this school year. The waivers also, generally, allow states to forgo making accountability decisions on those tests for a year.” The states approved are: Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Connecticut, South Dakota, Montana, and Nevada. California, the state with the largest student population, is still waiting to hear if it will be included in this list.

More waivers and delays, as well as rejections of both, are likely to follow in the coming weeks.

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