Reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act remains stalled in Congress, but the Obama administration continues to push ahead with big changes to the accountability system at its core, with more than half the states now having been approved for waivers from major mandates of the law.
The U.S. Department of Education so far has granted conditional waivers to 26 states from mandates such as the 2013-14 deadline for bringing all students to proficiency on state tests and the NCLB law’s teacher-quality requirements. In exchange, states have promised to adopt college- and career-readiness standards, measure teacher effectiveness in part by student outcomes, and set alternative goals for student achievement.
Nine states and the District of Columbia are waiting to hear about waiver applicationssubmitted in February. Early this year, the department issued waivers to 11 states that applied last fall.
In the latest two rounds of waivers—June 29 and July 6—seven states were added to the approved list. Among them was Virginia, which has not adopted the Common Core State Standards. Its inclusion could put to rest the idea that states must adopt the common standards in mathematics and English/language arts in order to get a federal waiver.
The other states that got waivers in the past month were Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, seven states have received an alternative form of leeway—separate from the conditional waivers—that enables them to hit the pause button on a key component of the NCLB compliance clock. The states were given permission to freeze their goals for “annual measureable outcomes”—or AMOs—for one year while they work on their waiver plans or wait for the final word on pending applications. <Read more.>