Waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act have provided an escape hatch for many schools that were facing some of the toughest penalties under the 12-year-old federal school accountability law, according to a paper by the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.
In 15 waiver states surveyed, more than half of schools that were in NCLB restructuring during the 2011-12 school year were not on their state’s list of the bottom 15 percent “priority” or “focus” schools under waivers, New America policy analyst Anne Hyslop found in the paper released last month.
The bottom line of Ms. Hyslop’s paper: Far fewer schools are being identified for interventions under waivers, and whether the right schools are being identified is an open and important question.
One example is Nevada, which saw 86 schools in restructuring during the 2011-12 school year—the most aggressive penalty under the federal school accountability law reserved for schools that hadn’t made adequate yearly progress for six years in a row. But after the state got an NCLB waiver, by the 2012-13 school year, 75 of those schools got relief from the toughest interventions.
While many states identified similar schools for interventions under waivers as under the NCLB law, five states in particular took a divergent path: Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. At least half their schools relieved from interventions under waivers were previously in corrective action (the next-to-worst NCLB sanction) or restructuring.
A version of this article appeared in the January 08, 2014 edition of Education Week as NCLB Waivers Let Many Schools Escape Penalties, Study Says