Guest post by Andrew Ujifusa
Oklahoma is set to get back its waiver from the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Oklahoma Department of Education announced Nov. 24, reversing the loss of its waiver from earlier this year. UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Education subsequently confirmed that it has restored Oklahoma’s waiver.
The state was the second to lose its NCLB waiver after Washington state, and it is the first state to reclaim a lost NCLB waiver, now that it officially has a set of standards that match what the Education Department wants.
Here’s how we got to this point: In June, Oklahoma decided to drop the Common Core State Standards in favor of the state’s previous content standards, the Priority Academic Student Skills, or PASS. The plan was for Oklahoma to use its current standards while it developed new content standards for the 2016-17 academic year. At that point, however, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education had certified that the PASS standards would properly prepare students for college and career. Having “college- and career-ready” standards, whether they be common core or approved as such by states’ institutions of higher education, is a key hurdle for states to clear in order to receive an NCLB waiver.
Since PASS didn’t meet other of those criteria, the Education Department took away Oklahoma’s waiver in August.
But on Oct. 16, the Regents for Higher Education officially approved the PASS standards as college- and career-ready. As my colleague Alyson Klein wrote, that decision by the regents triggered a push by the Oklahoma education department to reapply for its waiver. That push has now proven to be successful.
Last month, as Oklahoma awaited a decision from the Education Department about its waiver status, Alyson chronicled how Oklahoma and Washington state were struggling to adapt to life without their NCLB waivers.