The Education Dept. (DoEd) awards Louisiana a waiver that will allow the state to continue receiving flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
The state is implementing comprehensive, state-designed plans to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student, DoEd Secy. Arne Duncan.
“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 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 this flexibility was first granted in 2012, the department has partnered with Louisiana 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.
Louisiana is taking important steps toward ensuring that every child has the opportunity he or she deserves, Duncan said. However, its waiver is being moved to high-risk status because its timelines to administer English language proficiency assessments and alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities do not meet the requirements of ESEA flexibility, Duncan said.
While the state has a high-quality plan to administer aligned general assessments in the 2015-2016 school year, the state plans to administer English language proficiency and alternate assessments that are not fully aligned with the state’s academic content standards for the 2015-16 school year. The state has not yet submitted the federally-defined high-quality plan to administer these aligned assessments for all students in both the 2016-17 and subsequent school years, but will do so in spring 2016, Duncan said.
Louisiana has leveraged its federal school improvement funds to develop a competitive grant program to provide funding for districts to turn around schools that are identified because of significant achievement gaps. This newly approved flexibility allows the Louisiana Department of Education to broaden the impact of Title I school improvement funds and enables the state to implement rigorous interventions in these schools.
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 Louisiana’s announcement, the department has renewed flexibility for Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. More renewal decisions will follow.
In the event that Congress reauthorizes ESEA, the department will work with states to help them transition to the new law. Duncan has called on Congress to create a bipartisan ESEA law that:
- Addresses funding inequities for schools that serve high proportions of low-income students.
- Gives teachers and principals the resources they need, and invests in districts and states to create innovative new solutions to increase student outcomes;
- Makes real investments in high-poverty schools and districts;
- Holds high expectations for all students;
- Identifies schools that are consistently not making progress and dedicates extra resources and support, including in the lowest-performing 5% of schools that are struggling year after year.