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Federal Education Programs » NCLB/ESEA Waivers » About This Website / Background Information

About This Website / Background Information


On August 8, 2011 President Obama directed the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to “move forward with plans to provide flexibility to states,” which are looking for greater relief under the No Child Left Behind law. Since this announcement, the Center on Education Policy began tracking current developments relating to the federal government's decision to offer regulatory flexibility from some provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), most recently amended in 2002 by the No Child Left Behind Act.  For background information about this process and authority, see the CEP paper “Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Secretary of Education's Plan to Waive Major ESEA Requirements” (**updated 12/6/11**) and "Frequently Asked Questions About State Accountability Plans and Their Relationship to Waivers." For additional background information, see the Useful Resources page. 

This announcement by the President came as many states were appealing to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to provide flexibility from some requirements of ESEA. The Department had many options already available to provide flexibility to states, including waivers of statutory and regulatory provisions as well as amendments to state accountability plans. Prior to October 12, developments occurred almost daily as states expressed interest in these flexibility options, submitted requests and suggestions to the U.S. Department of Education, and received responses from the Department. These developments are tracked on the page Information on Flexibility PRIOR to October 12, 2011. This process was independent of the new comprehensive waiver policy, though both processes have the objective of easing NCLB requirements. To clarify this difference, we have tracked developments using two separate maps on two separate pages.

On September 23, 2011, President Obama formally outlined the Administration's comprehensive ESEA flexibility package, which will grant states waivers from specific provisions of NCLB/ESEA in return for their agreement to implement certain reform measures. States were asked to inform ED by October 12th, 2011 whether they intend to apply for waivers, and to submit a detailed outline of their reform plans by either November 14, 2011 or mid-February 2012. More information on this process is available on the U.S. Department of Education website's ESEA Flexibility homepage, at http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility. Developments occurring under this more formal flexibility process are outlined on the main Waiver Watch webpage.

In this changing environment, CEP researchers will do our best to keep you updated on each state's status. Please also note the date that the page was last updated, as it will change frequently. If you have suggestions or updates for this webpage, please e-mail us at cep-dc@cep-dc.org, and include the appropriate references or documentation, where applicable, in your message.

For more details about developments in a state over time, click on each state in the map on the main Waiver Watch page. Many states have not released official documentation concerning flexibility, and so for timeliness and availability reasons, some sources are news articles. We made our best effort to use only reliable sources that quoted state officials. Where possible, we have linked to primary documents or press releases from state departments of education and the U.S. Department of Education. On the Useful Resources page we also provide links to statements and announcements made by the U.S. Department of Education and other national key players.

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