In the past few years more than 40 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico received flexibility from the prescriptive, top-down requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This flexibility has allowed states and districts to develop creative solutions tailored to their individual cultures, with major benefits for all students, regardless of background.
The law has been due for reauthorization since 2007, but in the absence of reauthorization, the Obama Administration began to grant waivers from the law in 2012 for states that promised to adopt an array of implementations that will highly benefit the growth of students, teachers, and administrators.
These waivers expire at the end of the current school year, and the U.S. Department of Education is offering renewals to states that want to extend this flexibility and continue the progress.
Specifically, states must include the following in their renewal requests:
- Details on how the state consulted with key groups on the implementation of ESEA flexibility and the changes the state is proposing to make to its currently approved flexibility request, including local districts, teachers and their representatives, administrators, students, parents, community-based organizations, civil rights organizations, organizations representing students with disabilities, organizations representing English learners, business organizations, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes;
- A description of how the state will continue to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career, including how the state will continue to support all students, including English learners, students with disabilities, low-achieving students, and economically disadvantaged students, and teachers of those students;
- A demonstration that a school may not receive the highest rating in the state's accountability system if there are significant achievement or graduation rate gaps in the school that are not closing;
- A description of interventions in the state's lowest-performing schools and schools with the largest-achieving gaps, including how the state will identify priority and focus schools that have not met targets and how the state will increase the rigor of interventions and supports in those schools;
- A clear and rigorous process for providing interventions and supports to other Title I schools and supports for low-achieving students in those schools that consistently miss benchmarks;
- A description of a statewide strategy to support and monitor district implementation of a system ensuring all students—no matter their zip code—are being served well and that districts are held accountable for their success; and
- Updates from states reflecting the passage of time since the waivers were originally approved, including information about how the state will continuously improve implementation of its systems.