Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Washington Is First State To Lose NCLB Waiver

As previously forecast, the Department of Education announced last week that it was withdrawing the State of Washington’s No Child Left Behind waiver. Washington state’s NCLB renewal has been on high-risk status since last August. Teacher evaluation assessments were the sticking point between Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Washington officials. While Washington State’s teacher evaluations use students' scores as measures of effectiveness in district-level assessments, the ED wanted the state legislature to mandate using student performances on statewide tests for teacher accountability. When Washington’s legislature failed to pass a bill to incorporate students’ statewide test scores in teacher evaluations, the state could not hold on to its NCLB waiver. Since efforts to pass such a law failed, Washington will have to set aside 20 percent of its Title I funds (an estimated $38 million) for “public school choice and supplemental educational services rather than having the flexibility to use those funds for other activities to improve student achievement in low-achieving schools,” Secretary Duncan said in his letter to Washington. The implications for school district budgets after Washington’s loss of flexibility to use the Title I funds are uncertain. School districts under the waiver had more flexibility to simply add Title I funds to their overall budgets, but without the NCLB waiver, that spending will be directed where the federal government says the money must go. As for Washington state’s response, a spokesperson for Governor Jay Inslee says “[t]here is no Plan B.”


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