In a February 29, 2012 press release, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that 26 additional states and the District of Columbia have submitted requests for waivers from burdensome mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The states are Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. According to the press release, each state has proposed plans to raise standards, improve accountability, and support reforms to improve principal and teacher effectiveness. ED Secretary Arne Duncan said “Like the first round of waiver applicants, these plans will protect children, raise the bar and give states the freedom to implement reforms that improve student achievement.” Earlier in February, ED approved NCLB waivers for all 11 of the first round applicants; namely Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. If the new waiver requests are all approved, which is likely, the total number of NCLB waivers will be 38, with more states expected to apply later this year. States without waivers will continue to suffer potentially costly penalties for failing to meet NCLB mandates such as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and reading and math proficiency for all students by 2014.
Meanwhile, in a February 28th press release, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce announced its approval of two separate but related legislative proposals to rewrite NCLB; The Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) and The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990). Among other things, the proposals would replace NCLB’s AYP mandate with state-determined accountability systems, eliminate federal mandates for turning around the lowest-performing schools, and require states and school districts to develop teacher evaluation systems that measure the teacher’s impact on student learning. The committee chairman said “With these proposals, we aim to shrink federal intrusion in classrooms and return responsibility for student success to states and school districts.” The proposals would also provide states and school districts with new flexibility in the use of federal education funds.
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