(Nov 13) US Education Department to Scale Back Key Waiver-Renewal Mandates

By Michele McNeil on November 13, 2013 6:30 PM

Two and a half months after announcing that states would have to jump through more hoops to continue their No Child Left Behind Act flexibility, the U.S. Department of Education is planning to back away from the waiver requirement that states do a better job making sure poor and minority students have equal access to effective teachers, Politics K-12 has learned.

In guidelines released in August that govern the process for renewing a waiver, the department planned to require states, by October 2015, to use teacher-evaluation data to ensure that poor and minority students are not taught by ineffective teachers at a higher rate than their peers. This issue of teacher distribution is a very important one to civil rights groups.

The department also planned to require states and districts to improve the use of federal Title II funds for professional development, with a requirement that districts spend the money on “evidence-based” programs and link them to new college- and career-ready standards. 

Both of those requirements are now going away, department officials confirm. However, they emphasize that this is not a backing away from a strong equity agenda, and that they plan to develop a 50-state strategy that is not limited to the 42 states plus the District of Columbia that have waivers. By the end of January, department officials say, they will have begun a process of putting teeth into existing Title I and Title II laws. (For example, the NCLB law currently requires that states have approved equity plans as part of the “highly qualified” teacher provision.)

And in another important change, the waiver renewals will be for only one year; the original plan was for a two-year extension of the waivers. States will have until the end of February—or 60 days after they get their federal monitoring report—to apply for a waiver extension.

Full story: Education Department to Scale Back Key Waiver-Renewal Mandates Michele McNeil, Education Week, 11/13/13

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