The Obama administration approved Washington and Wisconsin today for flexibility from key provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership.
Today's announcement brings to 26 the number of states that have been approved for waivers from NCLB, whose rigid, top-down prescriptions for reform, while well-intentioned, proved burdensome for many states.
Federal education law has been due for congressional reauthorization since 2007. In the face of congressional inaction, President Obama announced in September of 2011 that the Obama Administration would grant waivers from NCLB to qualified states.
The first requests for waivers were granted in February of 2012. Eleven additional requests are still under review, and there is still time for other states to apply.
"It is a remarkable milestone that in only five months, more than half of the states in the country have adopted state-developed, next-generation education reforms to improve student learning and classroom instruction, while ensuring that resources are targeted to the students that need them most," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "A strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act remains the best path forward in education reform, but as 26 states have now demonstrated, our kids can't wait any longer for Congress to act."
The 26 states that have been approved for waivers from NCLB include: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The 10 other states (plus Washington, D.C.) with outstanding requests for waivers include: Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon and South Carolina.
The 14 states (plus Puerto Rico) that have not yet requested a waiver through this process include: Alabama, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont (request withdrawn), West Virginia and Wyoming.
States have until Sept. 6 to apply for the next round of waivers.