11 States Seek Flexibility from NCLB to Drive Education Reforms in First Round of Requests

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11 States Seek Flexibility from NCLB to Drive Education Reforms in First Round of Requests

39 States, D.C., Puerto Rico to Seek Flexibility in the Coming Months; 2nd round in February

November 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - Just seven weeks after President Obama announced a plan to offer greater flexibility from federal education mandates in exchange for a strong commitment to core reforms that boost student achievement, 11 states formally submitted to the U.S. Department of Education requests for waivers from key provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The following states, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee filed requests based on locally-designed plans to implement college and career ready standards; develop rigorous accountability systems that include a focus on low-performing schools and schools with persistent achievement gaps; and create better systems for developing, supporting and evaluating principals and teachers.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan commended the states requesting waivers saying, “We set a high bar and an aggressive deadline, but these states rose to the challenge. Clearly, there's tremendous urgency for reform at the local level because our economy and our future are directly tied to the quality of public education. States and districts want flexibility from NCLB so they can make local decisions in the best interests of children—and they can't wait any longer."

If their plans are approved, these 11 states will:

  • Set performance targets to graduate students from high school ready for college and career rather than having to meet NCLB 2014 deadlines based on arbitrary measures of proficiency.
  • Design locally-tailored interventions for schools instead of one-size-fits-all remedies prescribed at the federal level.
  • Be free to measure school progress using multiple measures rather than just test scores.
  • Have more flexibility in how they spend Title 1 dollars.

The 11 waiver requests will be posted on-line later this week along with the names of the peer reviewers who will convene immediately after Thanksgiving to review them. States seeking flexibility in the first round will be notified by mid-January or earlier.

Since the President's announcement in September, 39 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have signaled their intent to seek flexibility from NCLB. The next deadline for requests is in Mid-February. States can also make requests later in the spring.

The flexibility package was developed with input from state education leaders across America under waiver authority granted to the U.S. Department of Education in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). More comprehensive reforms, outlined in President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform, await Congressional reauthorization of the ESEA.