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ED Sec: States to apply for waivers from No Child Left Behind

August 8, 2011

Today, Secretary Duncan announced that the Department of Ed would initiate a new waiver system for states who wish to opt out of No Child Left Behind.  He cites the lack of congressional action to retool the performance requirements for schools and districts.  Leading up to this were a number of states who announced that they would decline to comply with the law in upcoming years, with or without a waiver.

The Washington Post states that states applying for waivers will need to adopt high standards related to career and college preparedness. Some are equating that call to an implicit requirement to adopt Common Core Standards released earlier this year (on a related note, the political fight regarding centralized control over curriculum and school reform is likely to impact the timing and content of policy and legislation in the upcoming months).  Other requirements alluded to echo previous reform priorities of the current administration.

Schools and districts across the country are already working to reform class offerings, benchmark and summative assessment, and evaluation procedures for instructional staff and administration; many states have already adopted or indicated intention to adopt Common Core Standards.  Small and rural districts often lack the resources to tackle school reform on their own; these agencies should continue collaborating with technical assistance groups and state departments of education for resources and guidance.  Also, current reform efforts should address academic standards, and be compatible with Common Core Standards, but also be flexible as changes to current federal policy are enacted.

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