The Education Dept. (DoEd) has approved seven states — Alaska, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee and Utah – for continued flexibility from the most onerous provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
These states are implementing comprehensive, state-designed plans to ensure student success.
“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been,” said Education Secy. Arne Duncan. “As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes.”
Since the first NCLB waivers were granted in 2012, the department has partnered with state and district leaders to provide relief from some provisions of NCLB in exchange for taking bold actions to improve student outcomes and ensure equity for all students. Under NCLB, schools were given many ways to fail but very few opportunities to succeed. The law forced schools and districts into one-size-fits-all solutions, regardless of the individual needs and circumstances in those communities.
Under the flexibility plans, states continue to focus funding on comprehensive, rigorous interventions in their lowest-performing schools and supports to help the neediest students meet high expectations alongside their peers. States also have spent money on improving teacher and principal effectiveness across the country with evaluation and support systems that are used for continual improvement of instruction and provide clear, timely and useful feedback, including feedback that identifies needs and guides professional development, DoEd said.
The waivers provide an additional four years of flexibility for Tennessee, and three years of flexibility for Alaska, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon. As requested by Utah’s State Office of Education, the state is receiving a one-year renewal.
Each state has its own plan.
- The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has created a system where expert mentors and state staff work closely together to ensure that Alaska’s lowest performing schools and districts are receiving the additional supports they need to help students become college- and career-ready.
- Indiana has developed and posted on its website a series of tutorial videos that model best practices and support its teachers to set and implement college- and career-ready goals for their students.
- The waivers have allowed Maryland to make additional resources available to low-performing schools, and they are getting additional help as a result of coordinated interventions and services through the State’s Breakthrough Center, which works closely with the state’s priority schools to identify the and magnitude of a school’s needs.
- New Jersey has implemented several innovative support structures, such as partnerships with higher education for teacher training and student preparedness, as well as program grants to foster family-school partnerships. These structures are intended to not only support the general K-12 student population but also to target the unique needs of English learners, students with disabilities and students living in poverty.
Forty-two states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have received flexibility from the burdens of the existing law in order to support improved achievement in schools. All states up for renewal have submitted a request to extend their flexibility and Nebraska requested a waiver from the law for the first time ever.
In addition to the states being announced today, the Department has renewed flexibility for Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.