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NCLB/ESEA Waiver Watch

* For detailed 50-state summary page, click here.

About This Website

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 2/14/12**) and "Frequently Asked Questions About State Accountability Plans and Their Relationship to Waivers." For additional background information, see the Washington Post, New York Times or Education Week.

The U.S. Department of Education has many options available to provide flexibility to states, including waivers of statutory and regulatory provisions as well as amendments to state accountability plans.  Developments have occurred almost daily as states expressed interest in flexibility, formally submitted requests and suggestions, and received responses from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). These developments are tracked in the second map below.

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 are requested to indicate by October 12th, 2011 whether they intend to apply for waivers and 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 in the first map below.

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 over time, we have compiled a state-by-state summary page here. 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. Below the map we also provide links to statements and announcements made by the U.S. Department of Education and other national key players. 

 

Tracking State Requests for Waivers After October 12, 2011

President Obama’s statement on September 23rd, 2011 established a formal process under which states could apply for flexibility from certain provisions of NCLB/ESEA. As noted above and according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, states are required to inform the Department by October 12, 2011 if they intend to apply for flexibility and for which deadline they will submit their application. The map below will track these official declarations of intent submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by various states. We will update the map with links as they are made public, so check this page frequently for the most current information. 

 

As of November 18 there are 39 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. that have submitted letters expressing intent to apply for flexibility through ED’s formal application process. 11 states (colored blue) have indicated intent to apply under the November deadline, and 28 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. (colored yellow) have indicated intent to apply under the February, 2012 deadline. No state has officially announced that it will not seek a waiver.

State Waiver Applications

Click on each state name below to view that state’s official waiver application:

Colorado

Minnesota

Oklahoma

Kentucky

Tennessee

Florida

Massachusetts

New Jersey

Georgia

Indiana

CEP researchers have also found detailed information on New Mexico’s waiver application:

New Mexico

Peer Reviewers

The names, titles and affiliations of the 21 peer reviewers for the December 2011 waiver application review process are available here.




Tracking State Requests for Flexibility Prior to October 12, 2011

As outlined above, we began tracking state requests after the Secretary’s announcement in early August 2011. The map below contains links to the online sources from which we drew our information about the development in that state prior to October 12, 2011. It is important to note that these resources are not an exhaustive list of all requests from states nor is it a comprehensive record of changes to state accountability policies since the enactment of NCLB in 2002. Rather, we began collecting information as of early August 2011 and continued to track these developments as they occurred.

The states colored blue on the map are those that submitted a formal document to the U.S. Department of Education requesting flexibility from specific provisions of NCLB/ESEA prior to October 12, 2011, apart from the formal application process. States colored green are those that have been granted approval from the U.S. Department of Education to make changes to their accountability plans. States colored red are those that formally requested flexibility in certain provisions of NCLB/ESEA prior to October 12th, but received word from the U.S. Department of Education that those requests would not be upheld. States colored purple are those in which a state official expressed interest in applying for a waiver through the formal process but had done so prior to October 12th, 2011.

As of October 11 there were 6 states that submitted requests for flexibility to ED separate from the formal waiver application process, 4 that were granted approval, 2 that were denied approval and 20 that expressed interest in possibly applying for a waiver prior to October 12, 2011.

Useful Resources:

Official ESEA Flexibility Package

ESEA Flexibility Documents and Resources
U.S. Department of Education

Video of President Obama's Announcement of NCLB Waivers
CSPAN

September 23, 2011

Federal

Obama Administration Plans NCLB 'Flexibility' Package Tied to Reform If Congress Does Not Act Soon on Reauthorization
Original press release regarding waivers from U.S. Department of Education
June 13, 2011

Letter to Secretary Duncan from Reps. Kline and Hunter voicing concern about conditional waivers
June 23, 2011

Secretary of Education’s Waiver Authority with Respect to Title I-A Provisions
Included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Memo form Congressional Research Service
June 28, 2011

Letter to Congressman Kline from Secretary Duncan in response to June 23 letter (see above)
U.S. Department of Education
July 6, 2011

“Real Relief for Schools: Accomplishing Effective Flexibility”
Report from Education and Workforce Committee Democrats, U.S. House of Representatives
July, 2011

Providing Our Schools Relief from No Child Left Behind
Posting by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
August 8, 2011

Top 5 Questions About NCLB Flexibility
U.S. Department of Education
August 8, 2011

Obama Administration Presses Forward with Backdoor Education Reform Agenda
Alert from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce
August 19, 2011

Letter to Secretary Ducan from Senators Bennet, Hagan, Landrieu, Feinstein, Lieberman, Begich, Udall, Carper, Coons and Kohl regarding waivers
U.S. Senate
September 9, 2011

Letter to Secretary Duncan from Senator Rubio regarding waivers
U.S. Senate
September 12, 2011

GOP Senators Introduce own ESEA Renewal Bills (possibly restricting Secretary's waiver authority)
Education Week
September 14, 2011

A bill to amend Section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 with regard to waivers of statutory and regulatory requirements
U.S. Senate
September 15, 2011

Schools need more reform, less federal control
Commentary in the Washington Examiner from Rep. John Kline, chariman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
September 22, 2011

Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander regarding waivers
September 22, 2011

Statement from Senator Enzi, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
U.S. Senate
September 23, 2011

Obama Administration Ignores Education Reform Efforts in House, Presses Forward with Backdoor Education Agenda
Alert from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce
September 29, 2011

National Associations

Letter to Secretary Duncan regarding NCLB regulatory relief
National Education Association
May 27, 2011

Letter to Secretary Duncan offering recommendations for NCLB regulatory relief
National Schools Boards Association
July 19, 2011

Letter to Secretary Duncan regarding ESEA flexibility and recommendations for waivers
Signed by The Education Trust, The National Council for La Raza and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
August 3, 2011

Statement from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel
National Education Association
August 8, 2011

Statement by CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit on Administration's Waiver Announcement
Council of Chief State School Officers
August 8, 2011

Letter to Secretary Duncan offering critique and recommendations for NCLB waivers
American Association of School Administrators and National School Boards Association
August 10, 2011

Statewide Educational Accountability Systems Under the NCLB ACTA: Report on 2009 and 2010 Amendments to State Plans
Council of Chief State School Officers
September, 2011

Advisory Memo to U.S. Department of Education: Recommendations on the Waiver Process
Democrats for Education Reform
September 15, 2011

Other

To waive or not to waive
Post from the former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in The Huffington Post
August 16, 2011

The NCLB Waiver: A Common-Sense Solution
Commentary from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett in Education Week
August 22, 2011

Editorial by Senator Alexander
The New York Times
September 26, 2011
For States, Collaboration Key to NCLB Waivers
Education Week
November 9, 2011
by ebwebwork