A dozen states have applied for extra flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education to give them another year of wiggle room as they roll out new teacher-evaluation systems. And 15 states have asked federal officials for a special waiver so they can give fewer tests to students, the department announced Tuesday.
States including Maryland, Kentucky, and North Carolina want to delay, by one year, tying teacher evaluations to teacher personnel decisions. That’s something federal officials offered back in June as states struggled to implement new common standards, new tests, and high-stakes teacher-rating systems that tie personnel decisions to student growth. Under No Child Left Behind Act waivers, states were originally supposed to implement new evaluation systems and tie them to personnel decisions, such as firings and tenure, by the 2015-16 school year. The added flexibility, dubbed “waiver-waivers,” would allow states to have until 2016-17.
The other nine states seeking the evaluation waiver-waivers are: Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington.
The double-testing waiver allows states to suspend some of their current tests and give only the field tests from the common-testing consortia—to avoid double testing students. The 15 states that are seeking this waiver, which is open to non-NCLB-waiver states, are: California, Connecticut Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.
Note the overlap. Six states want both waivers. (Note corrected number here, as the states that want both waivers are: Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington.)
What’s also interesting is that two Race to the Top states have asked for the teacher-evaluation flexibility: Maryland and North Carolina. To land a piece of the Obama administration’s $4 billion grand prize, states put forth big plans for education improvement—including revamped teacher evaluations. The department has already signaled that it’s not very excited about allowing Race to the Top states, which are getting money to implement their plans, to delay their evaluation timelines. So it will be interesting to see if everyone gets these waivers.