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Ed. Dept. Rejects, For Now, Utah and Arkansas Teacher-Evaluation Waivers

By Michele McNeil — February 20, 2014 1 min read
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The U.S. Department of Education has rejected, at least for now, Arkansas’ and Utah’s requests for a one-year delay in implementing the final phase of their teacher-evaluation systems.

The reason: Both states asked federal officials for more than just a delay.

In June, the U.S. Department of Education set up a fast-track, streamlined process to consider requests from No Child Left Behind waiver states to delay by one year, until 2016-17, the requirement that teacher evaluations be tied to personnel decisions.

According to letters sent to Arkansas and Utah in December, both states’ requests went outside the parameters of that streamlined process. So now the department will consider the requests as part of its more rigorous, lengthier amendment process. (And neither state has had its request approved via the amendment process either, according to the department’s waiver website.)

What did the states want to do, besides delay tying personnel decisions to evaluations?

Utah wants to delay its pilot for its student-growth percentiles and student learning objectives, along with full implementation of its student-growth measure, to the 2016-17 school year.

And Arkansas wants to delay the use of its student-growth measure until the 2015-16 school year.

Meanwhile, for those keeping score, Missouri also in December received approval to delay by one year its final teacher-evaluation system phase-in. But importantly, their timeline was way ahead of everyone else’s, and so their one-year delay means they will be starting to tie personnel decisions to evaluations in 2015-16. (In other words, they didn’t even really need the department’s special one-year extension waiver.)

In all, these states (besides Missouri) have approved teacher-evaluation waivers: Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The department has yet to announce their decision on four states that want a teacher-evaluation delay: Maryland, Kansas, Washington, and South Dakota.