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Waiver States Continue to Struggle With Turnarounds

By Alyson Klein — March 24, 2014 1 min read

The U.S. Department of Education released a whopping nine monitoring reports last Friday, taking a look at how states are doing with implementation of flexibility from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Overall, states—including those that won multimillion dollar Race to the Top grants—continue to struggle with turning around their lowest-performing schools, and even with ensuring that their highest-performing or “reward” schools get their due.

Some specifics from the reports:

•Arizona, which is in danger of losing its waiver because of issues with its teacher evaluation system, is also falling down when it comes to supporting “priority” (the lowest performing) and “focus” (other struggling) schools.

•Race to the Top winners, including the District of Columbia, Ohio, and Rhode Island, are foundering when it comes to assisting with turnarounds. Rhode Island has also asked for changes to its teacher evaluation system that are currently under review at the department.

•Race to the Top winner Maryland gets a gold star for implementation of both standards and turnarounds. But it is seeking an amendment to its Race to the Top plan in the area of teacher evaluation, so that portion of its waiver request is still under review.

•Another Race to the Top winner, North Carolina, doesn’t seem to have any major pitfalls. The Tar Heel state got a thumbs-up in every area of waiver implementation.

•New Mexico, one of the first states to get a waiver, is doing well when it comes to implementing new standards, but it is having difficulty with both turnarounds and teacher evaluation. Its principal evaluation system is proceeding apace, however.

•Virginia, one of several states that has a waiver but hasn’t adopted the common-core standards, got high marks for its work on standards and assessments. But it’s falling down when it comes to lending a hand to its priority schools.

•Wisconsin must update the assessment portion of its waiver request to recent changes to its assessment system. And like other states, it is having difficulty supporting priority schools.

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