The political sheen may have been worn off of No Child Left Behind waivers for a while now, but nearly every state that has a waiver is planning to file a renewal request, according to an Edweek survey of state education agencies and their websites.
However, in a couple of states—Louisiana and Texas—the waiver renewal response wasn’t really a straight yes or no, more of an “it’s complicated.”
Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential candidate is locked in a stand-off on common core testing with the Obama administration, is still mulling its options, a spokesman for the Education Department said. (The Pelican State better hurry and make up its mind. Renewal requests are due March 31.) When it comes to standards, Louisiana may go the Oklahoma route of ditching Common Core, switching back to its old standards, and then having its institutions of higher education sign off.
And Texas, which had been warned that its teacher evaluation system didn’t pass federal muster, is sticking to its guns and filing a renewal request without including changes the feds asked for, according to a department of education official.
It sounds like edu-folks in the Lone Star State are fine with that. “It’s fair to say the feedback has generally been appreciative of the stance TEA has taken to assure the teacher evaluation process continues to be under local control,” said the official, who also noted that Texas’ waiver hasn’t been put on high-risk status. More background on the back-and-forth between Texas and the Education Department here.
Meanwhile, nearly every state that’s figured out its timeline is planning to file a renewal for three years, the maximum for most states. (A select few can apply for a four-year renewal.)
Two exceptions: Georgia and Utah, both of which are going for a one-year renewal. That could make the process easier for those states, and will also allow them to carefully consider whether they want their waivers in place beyond the Obama administration. Background on Utah here.
Plus, some states have been willing to make changes called for by the U.S. Department of Education. Maine, for instance, recently passed a bill that would make it crystal clear that state test scores are a factor in its teacher evaluation system, after the feds cited a lack of clarity there as a flaw in a letter last year. (Maine was never explicitly threatened with waiver revocation, but Washington state lost its waiver because its evaluation system explicitly gave states a choice between incorporating state or local tests in evaluations.)
The Pine Tree state made the change in time to get its flexibility request in early next week, ahead of the federal deadline, Samantha Warren, a spokeswoman for the department said in an email.
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