Ten states have received waivers from the 2014 targets set by the No Child Left Behind Act, in exchange for agreeing to certain standards and accountability measures promulgated by the Obama administration.
The Department of Education announced in a statement today that ten states – Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee – will receive the waiver. New Mexico also applied for a waiver but has yet to gain approval for it, and the Department of Education said 28 other states have indicated their intent to apply for a waiver soon.
The states will have increased flexibility on how to spend most of its Title I funding from the Education Department, but they must develop plans at every school aimed at improving educational outcomes for underperforming subgroups of students.
One of the waiver areas included in the offer by the administration was an option to use 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) funding to expand learning during the school day.
That pot of funding generally totals close to $1 billion, and traditionally funds out-of-school time programs. After-school advocates fear that states using the CCLC waiver may draw resources away from the programs they champion in favor of supplementing school-day opportunities.
Of the ten states approved today, seven requested the CCLC waiver; Colorado, Georgia and Minnesota did not.
Meanwhile, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) dropped two bills – the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act – aimed at reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The bills would eliminate the Adequate Yearly Progress measurements, which are the exact provisions that most states are hoping to avoid by pursuing the administration’s waivers. Kline’s bills would also replace federal teacher quality criteria with a local evaluation process.
“The administration’s waiver scheme provides just enough temporary relief to quiet the demand for lasting reform,” Kline said in a statement. “Rest assured, my colleagues and I on the House Education and the Workforce Committee haven’t lost our sense of urgency.”
Kline also restores the state administrative cap that steers Title I funding to services for low-income students. Kline had earlier indicated a desire to leave virtually all Title I spending decisions in the hands of the states, and this development increases the odds that a House bill could be conferenced with one from the Democrat-led Senate.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed an ESEA reauthorization bill in November, which has yet to go to the Senate floor for debate.