NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Get Warning about No Child Waivers

August 20, 2013

The Education Department says that three of 40 states recently granted waivers from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law were at high risk of losing them because they either have been slow to link teacher evaluations with student achievement or had adopted programs that didn't meet federal guidelines, says the Wall Street Journal.

If they fail to comply with federal requirements by May, Kansas, Oregon and Washington state face losing their waivers from the George W. Bush-era law, which could entail a loss of autonomy over some funding decisions and changes in how school districts' performances are judged.

  • The Education Department granted all three states approval to continue their waiver programs for the 2013-2014 school year and asked each to submit a plan of recourse within the next month.
  • Oregon plans to appeal the decision, while Kansas is undecided and Washington won't appeal, state officials say.
  • This is first time states have been given such a warning for this program, federal officials say.

The tussle highlights the complications of the waiver program, which allows the 40 states and the District of Columbia to avoid penalties under NCLB if they pursue a new wave of classroom changes favored by the Obama administration.

  • In Washington state's case, the Education Department deemed the state law on student-improvement measures inadequate, and said a change in the law is required.
  • Both Kansas and Oregon said they needed more time to finesse their pilot programs for teacher and principal evaluations.
  • While Oregon hasn't decided on a definite program to use, Kansas wants more time to perfect its plan of choice.

The U.S. House passed a bill to replace NCLB and revamp K-12 education last month. The measure, the Student Success Act, now faces a vote in the Senate.

Rep. John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota and chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is pushing for the legislation. "Our children deserve more than another round of temporary waivers; they deserve a better law," says Kline.

Source: Caroline Porter, "Three States Get Warning About 'No Child' Waivers," Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2013.


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