By the end of the month, the U.S. Department of Education plans to issue federal guidance for states to renew their waivers from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Monique Chism, the director of the Department’s Student Achievement and School Accountability office, made this announcement at a recent conference held by the National Association of State Title I Directors. Chism mentioned that the guidance is currently undergoing final clearance and will soon be released to the states.
Up to now, 40 states and the District of Columbia have obtained waivers that provide relief from burdensome aspects of the law, such as the rigid school improvement process and the deadline for universal student proficiency by 2014. Of these states, 34 were approved in the first two application rounds, and their waivers will expire at the end of the current school year. The five states approved in the third round earlier this year—Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and West Virginia—do not need to renew their waivers yet.
Chism informed the Title I officials that the departments expects application submissions for renewal to occur in January and March. There will be two windows for submission, allowing ample time for any necessary legislative or policy changes. The goal is to make the renewal process as smooth as possible.
Additionally, the Education Department will consider the results of its monitoring rounds when making decisions about waiver renewal. The first round, known as "Part A," assessed each state’s readiness to implement their waiver plan through desk-monitoring. The second round, "Part B," involves a combination of on-site and desk-monitoring and focuses on the implementation status of three specific elements in each state’s application. Two elements are chosen by the Education Department, while the third is chosen by the state itself. Currently, the department is concluding the pilot stage of Part B, with Colorado and Mississippi participating in on-site monitoring, and Connecticut and New Jersey participating in desk-monitoring. The department also plans to analyze various aspects of states’ waiver plans through "data runs," particularly regarding state accountability and support systems.
Chism emphasized that states should continue to update and make changes to their waiver plans, as the department aims to streamline the renewal process. So far, only California, Montana, and Nebraska have chosen not to apply for waivers, while North Dakota and Vermont withdrew their requests. However, the department has approved a separate district-level waiver application from a consortium of eight large school districts in California.