The U.S. Department of Education announced that eight states—Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island—will receive waivers from No Child Left Behind penalties.
“We couldn't be more proud of the creativity, courage and innovation shown by these states,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters. “The leadership that we are seeing at the state level, I think, is pretty remarkable.”
Late last year, as NCLB reform efforts by Congress floundered, President Obama announced that he would be issuing waivers to states, provided they met certain reform requirements. Some of those requirements include improving school evaluations, meaning that schools must be evaluated in areas such as college preparation, teacher accountability and teacher effectiveness.
“States must show they are protecting children in order to get flexibility,” Duncan said in a statement. “These states met that bar.”
The latest batch of states to receive waivers shows a strong correlation to states that have won grants from the Race to the Top contest, as six of the eight states also won part of the $4 billion fund. Because the requirements to receive Race to the Top funding are similar to NCLB waiver requirements, these states are more likely to receive the waiver.
Some of these states receiving waivers come as a surprise. For example, both New York and Ohio have struggled at implementing evaluation systems.
New York’s issues became the most visible to the public, when the state’s department of education announced that they would make all teacher evaluations available to the public. With many, feeling the method of evaluation to be flawed and invalid, the state faced backlash from both teachers and the public.
“The waiver lets New York move away from NCLB requirements that were unproductive or unrealistic,” New York state Education Commissioner John B. King said in a prepared statement. “We're making a new set of promises to our students. Now we have to live up to those promises.”
Created in 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act was a reauthorization of the Education and Secondary Education Act, that garnered bipartisan support. However, after many educators and legislators have expressed worries over what they feel to have unrealistic goals and overly harsh penalties the law has fallen out of favor, with many calling for reform.
However, reform efforts over the past few years have floundered in Congress, with senators and representatives disagreeing on how schools and teachers should be evaluated.
“These states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from No Child Left Behind's one-size-fits-all mandates in order to develop locally tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” Duncan said during a conference call with reporters.
The states that won waivers earlier this year were: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Other states will receive waivers in the future as the Department of Education officials assess each application.
James Dugan is a writer for 360 Education Solutions