The Education Dept. grants continued flexibility waivers to seven states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Wisconsin — from 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 and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student. These waivers extensions are in addition to the waivers recently announced for five states: Delaware, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
The new extensions provide an additional three years of flexibility for Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, and an additional year for Arizona, Arkansas and New Hampshire. Each of these states is making progress when it comes to college- and career-ready standards and assessments, rigorous differentiated systems of recognition, accountability and support, and teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.
The state created a Principal Leadership Network to ensure that principals in its lowest-performing, or priority, schools have the support to be effective leaders in these schools, as measured by the state’s principal evaluation and support system. Through this program, regional cohorts of principals gather regularly to discuss strategies for school improvement, participate in professional development, and visit to model classrooms and schools throughout the state.
The state has improved the process for identifying and serving underperforming schools, and for including other Title I schools with achievement gaps, but not identified as the lowest-performing schools in the state, in receiving intervention services by having each school develop a single Comprehensive School Improvement Plan that also functions as the school’s application for federal program funds.
ESEA flexibility has allowed Mississippi to replace one-size-fits all interventions with a focus on ensuring that its lowest-performing schools get the context-specific supports they need to improve student learning, including, the development of an online system that enables school districts to differentiate interventions for those schools.
The state established the Literacy and Mathematics team in 2012 to support the work of school districts raising literacy and math expectations for all students. Through virtual and in-person professional development, key partnerships with school and district leaders, and the establishment of statewide literacy and math coaching networks, this team has worked to ensure all schools have access to high quality instructional practices, meaningful assessment strategies, and deep and rich subject-matter expertise in these critical areas.
In all, 42 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 these seven, the department has renewed flexibility for Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. More renewal decisions will follow in the coming weeks.
In the event that Congress reauthorizes ESEA, the Department will work with states to help them transition to the new law.