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President Obama Announces Flexibility in Exchange for Reform for Ten States
Additional States Expected to Request Flexibility in the Coming Weeks


Related Links:
Haslam lauds waiver decision

White House release




“I am pleased that it appears Tennessee will receive a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Tennessee’s waiver application struck a careful balance between embracing the positive aspects of NCLB (such as accountability and a focus on all students) and making improvements in areas such as measurement and better acknowledging academic progress.  While there are still many logistical questions to be answered, I believe Tennessee’s waiver will provide additional flexibility to our schools, and support our efforts to provide an outstanding education to our students.

“This is about making sure we do our job of educating children effectively. Any support that we get in doing that, any policy c
hanges that are put in place to assist us in doing that job more effectively, and resources that come to the fore to make that happen…I think we need to make sure that we embrace those and take full advantage of those to make sure that we are doing the best possible job that we can to provide an outstanding education to our children.

“This is an opportunity for us to have additional flexibility. It is not flexible in terms of the ultimate outcomes, which is academic success for stude
nts. It gives additional flexibility on the means that we take to get there. I think we’ve been very clear here locally as to what our pathway is, what our blueprint is…and that is our strategic plan, and I think everything about this waiver is very well aligned with the direction we are heading in, the strategic vision that we’ve defined, and for education in this community.”

Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent
Knox County Schools


February 9, 2012
Washington, DC — President Barack Obama announced today that ten states that have agreed to implement bold reforms around standards and accountability will receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In exchange for this flexibility, these states have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness. The ten states approved for flexibility are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

In a White House announcement attended by state education officials, teachers, civil rights, and business leaders, the President will say that NCLB, which is five years overdue for a rewrite, is driving the wrong behaviors, from teaching to the test to federally determined, one-size-fits-all interventions. The President will call on Congress to work across the aisle to fix the law even as his administration offers solutions for states to help prepare all students for college and career readiness.

"After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my Administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility," said President Obama. "Today, we're giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them. Because if we're serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren't going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work."

States Approved
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Indiana
Kentucky
Massachusetts
Minnesota
New Jersey
Oklahoma
Tennessee
The administration is continuing to work closely with New Mexico, the eleventh state that requested flexibility in the first round. Twenty-eight other states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico have indicated their intent to seek waivers.



President George W. Bush visited West View Elementary in 2004 to promote the No Child Left Behind legislation.
The administration's decision to provide waivers followed extensive efforts to work with Congress to rewrite NCLB. In March 2010, the administration submitted a "blueprint for reform" to Congress and has met extensively with Republican and Democratic legislators.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that current law drives down standards, weakens accountability, causes narrowing of the curriculum and labels too many schools as failing. Moreover, the law mandates unworkable remedies at the federal level instead of allowing local educators to make spending decisions.

"Rather than dictating educational decisions from Washington, we want state and local educators to decide how to best meet the individual needs of students," said Duncan.

To get flexibility from NCLB, states must adopt and have a plan to implement college and career-ready standards. They must also create comprehensive systems of teacher and principal development, evaluation and support that include factors beyond test scores, such as principal observation, peer review, student work, or parent and student feedback.

States receiving waivers no longer have to meet 2014 targets set by NCLB but they must set new performance targets for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps. They also must have accountability systems that recognize and reward high-performing schools and those that are making significant gains, while targeting rigorous and comprehensive interventions for the lowest-performing schools. Under the state-developed plans, all schools will develop and implement plans for improving educational outcomes for underperforming subgroups of students. State plans will require continued transparency around achievement gaps, but will provide schools and districts greater flexibility in how they spend Title I federal dollars.
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