U.S. Department of Education Approves NCLB Flexibility Extension Request for Oklahoma

Archived Information

U.S. Department of Education Approves NCLB Flexibility Extension Request for Oklahoma

November 24, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it is reinstating Oklahoma’s authority to implement flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, through the end of the 2014-15 school year.

In August, Oklahoma was unable to demonstrate that it had college- and career-ready standards in place, a key principle in ESEA flexibility, which is why the Department did not approve the state’s request to extend its flexibility. Following a recent review of the standards by the state’s colleges and universities, the state has the certification required to continue its flexibility. Higher, more rigorous academic standards help ensure that all students have the skills they need to succeed in college, career and life.

“I am confident that Oklahoma will continue to implement the reforms described in its approved ESEA flexibility request and advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students,” Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah S. Delisle wrote in a letter to the state.

The law 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 states to continue moving forward on the ambitious work they began with their initial flexibility requests.

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.

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. ESEA Flexibility allows states to continue the critical work of implementing the bold reforms they developed to improve achievement for all students.

Forty-two states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have ESEA flexibility, 34 of which expired this summer. Thirty-three states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have been granted extensions since July 3.

These one-year extensions expire at the end of the current school year, and the Department is offering renewals to states that want to extend this flexibility and continue the progress they've seen in the last three years. The guidance for renewal requests can be found here. The Obama Administration remains committed to working with Congress toward a strong, bipartisan reauthorization of ESEA.

The letter sent to Oklahoma is attached.