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Which NCLB Waiver States May Delay Using Test Scores in Teacher Evaluations?

By Alyson Klein — September 16, 2014 3 min read
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More than a third of states with waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act say they want to take the U.S. Department of Education up on its recent offer to allow states that are transitioning to new assesments to put off incorporating student test-scores into teacher evaluations until the end of this school year.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia told Education Week that they are likely to ask for the flexibility, or were already planning to hold off on using test scores in evaluations, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah.

Some states, such as Oregon and D.C., were already hoping to go this route before the announcement, so the department may not have had much choice in offering the flexibility. Otherwise, it might have had to pull a lot of waivers.

A few states, like Hawaii, Indiana, and Wisconsin, aren’t sure yet what they will do.

And at least eleven states say they aren’t likely to seek the extra time on incorporating student outcome into teacher evaluations, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Some of those states gave a very firm “no.”

Here’s New Mexico’s response, for example: “New Mexico will not be breaking the commitment we made in our waiver. Delayed accountability won’t help the students of New Mexico,” said state Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera.

Other states fell into the category of “no"—with an asterisk. For instance, New Jersey is planning to apply for additional flexibility to rework how much weight it gives student outcomes on new tests in its evaluation system. New York was also a “no,” but the state passed legislation that created a “safety net” for teachers that don’t get high ratings. Meanwhile, Colorado is in the “no” camp, but it is allowing districts to figure out how much weight to give student test scores in evaluations during this school year only. And South Carolina is a special case, in that the state uses multiple years of growth in student test scores.

We are still waiting for responses or clarification from other waiver states. We’ll update this post when we get it.

States will apply for the flexibility when the seek their waiver renewals this spring, said Raymonde Charles, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education. (That sounds like an odd process, given that the school year will already be nearly over by the time states ask permission for delaying the use of test scores in evaluations.)

The new flexibility doesn’t have any impact on the department’s plan to offer some states a longer waiver renewal next spring—a reward for staying on track with their teacher evaluation systems, Charles added.

So far, nine states have been told by the Education Department that they could be eligible for a longer waiver renewal, including Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, Nevada, and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Kansas, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Delaware, South Carolina, Maryland, Idaho, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, and South Dakota have all had their waivers extended, but were not explicitly told they were in the running for a longer renewal, meaning that their teacher evaluation systems may not completely conform to the department’s vision and timeline. Notice that there is a lot of overlap between that list and the states who say they may decide to postpone using test scores in evaluations.

Can’t keep track of all the twists and turns in the department’s waiver policy? This timeline should help.

Who has a waiver and who doesn’t? Who has been extended and who hasn’t? Check this map below for the answers: