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Pennsylvania’s No Child Left Behind Act Waiver Renewed

By Alyson Klein — September 08, 2015 1 min read
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And now there are 38 states, plus the District of Columbia—the U.S. Department of Education just renewed Pennsylvania’s waiver from many of the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act, for one year.

The Keystone State is getting a one-year renewal only even though some other states have been eligible to hang onto their flexibility for up to four years.Pennsylvania will need to submit information to the Education Department, showing that its teacher evaluation includes different levels for teacher performance. And it will need to show student growth is a significant factor in evaluations.

Pennsylvania is taking advantage of an accountability “pause” offered by the U.S. Department of Education. UPDATE (Sept. 9, 2015): This pause is slightly different from the one in 24 other states, allowing them to freeze school ratings for one year if they’re moving to new tests aligned to higher standards. Pennsylvania’s pause will allow it to hold off on incorporating school-building level academic scores into teacher evaluations, for teachers in grades three through eight.

Every one of the 42 states that has a waiver applied for renewal, and most have already gotten the green light to hang onto their flexibility for at least one more year. Still waiting in the wings: Colorado, Louisiana, and Texas. (Illinois got its waiver late, so it’s a special case, on a different timeline.)

So far, the department has revoked just two waivers: Washington and Oklahoma. (And the Sooner State got its flexibility back a few months after losing it last fall.) But Washington’s revocation happened more than a year ago, and the administration doesn’t seem to be in a waiver-pulling mood this time around. Politics could be part of the reason—U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s power is on the wane as the administration draws to a close, and Congress is poised to pass a bill to renew the NCLB law that takes aim at many of the administration’s priorities.

Of the three states still waiting for waiver renewals, Texas seems to be the most likely to test this new, renewal-friendly environment. The Lone Star State has essentially thumbed its nose at the department, particularly when it comes to teacher evaluation.

Having trouble keeping track of waivers? Check out our map.

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