Obama Administration Approves NCLB Flexibility Extension Requests for the District of Columbia and Tennessee

Archived Information

Obama Administration Approves NCLB Flexibility Extension Requests for the District of Columbia and Tennessee

September 5, 2014

The Obama Administration announced today that the District of Columbia and Tennessee have received a one-year extension for flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

"America's schools and classrooms are undergoing some of the largest changes in decades—changes that will help prepare our students with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that tomorrow's economy will require," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "This extension will allow the states to continue the critical work of implementing the bold reforms they developed to improve achievement for all students."

ESEA has been due for Congressional reauthorization since 2007. In the absence of reauthorization, President Obama announced in September 2011 that the administration would grant waivers from parts of the law to qualified states, in exchange for state-developed plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity and improve the quality of instruction. The one-year extension of ESEA flexibility allows the states to continue moving forward on the ambitious work they began with their initial flexibility requests.

Since fall 2011, the District of Columbia and Tennessee have implemented education reforms that go far beyond the Elementary and Secondary Education Act's rigid, top-down requirements. Examples of that work include:

District of Columbia:

  • Through the District of Columbia's statewide system of support, schools are provided data-driven, technical assistance in a way that is meaningful and relevant to schools' needs. This "one stop shop" approach helps reduce duplication and eliminate unnecessary administrative burden at the state level that can get in the way of school success. This system of support model creates the infrastructure for schools to partner with each other to address common challenges and identify best practices worthy of replication.

  • The District of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has developed a strong, collaborative relationship with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) as well as with the District's numerous charter local education agencies and leadership of the District's charter authorizer in an effort to ensure consistent implementation of the components of the District's ESEA flexibility plan. Through the ESEA flexibility extension, the District of Columbia will continue to create homegrown strategies for improving achievement and align funds to support our schools with the greatest needs.


  • The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) has implemented activities to transition its schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) to college- and career-ready standards (CCRS), including statewide assessments in mathematics and in reading/language arts; development and implementation of structures to provide training and professional development by both TDOE and staff at its Centers of RegionalExcellence (COREs); placement of math and data coaches, respectively, at each CORE; and development or identification and dissemination of instructional resources and materials aligned with the standards.

  • The state convened Focus School principals in November 2013 to identify intervention strategies to address the needs of the students that led to the school's identification as a focus school and to disseminate this information broadly across the state.

  • TDOE completed its second year of fully implementing its teacher evaluation system and principal evaluation system. It piloted further refinements to the principal evaluation system in 2013−2014, and will begin full implementation of the further revised principal evaluation system in the 2014−2015 school year.

In order to receive an extension, states must demonstrate that they have resolved any state-specific issues and next steps as a result of the Department's monitoring, as well as any other outstanding issues related to ESEA flexibility. States could also request additional amendments to support their continuous improvement efforts. The extension is through the 2014-2015 school year. The Department is reviewing requests from states for one-year extensions to ESEA flexibility on a rolling basis.

Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have ESEA flexibility, 35 of which expire this summer. Of those, 34 submitted an extension request. Twenty-three states: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee,Virginia and Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have been granted extensions since July 3.