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11 States Meet Early-Bird Deadline for NCLB Waivers

Eleven states will have the first opportunity to secure waivers from the U.S. Department of Education under the No Child Left Behind Act after meeting Monday's deadline for the first round.

They are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

This is fewer than the 17 states that originally had planned to apply by this first-round deadline, and reflects how much work—and collaboration with stakeholders—is required to put together a solid waiver proposal. As many as 40 states, plus D.C., may apply in subsequent rounds of the waiver process. The next deadline for states is mid-February, although the department has indicated it will accept applications in the future on a rolling basis.

These states' applications will be examined by outside peer reviewers in December, and they could win their waivers as early as January.

As part of their applications, the 11 states were supposed to demonstrate how they plan to implement college- and career-ready standards and tie state tests to them; adopt a differentiated accountability system that focuses on 15 percent of the most-troubled schools; and craft guidelines for teacher- and principal-evaluation systems that will be based partly on student growth and be used for personnel decisions.

In return, states will no longer have to face the 2014 deadline for bringing all students to proficiency in math and reading, their schools will no longer face NCLB sanctions, and district officials will have more freedom to move Title I money around.

Four of the 11 states that applied are Race to the Top states—Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. These states should have had a leg up in preparing their waiver proposals, which contained many of the elements required under Race to the Top.

Now it's time to delve into these 11 states' applications, and figure out what accountability without the cornerstone elements of NCLB looks like. Will we like what we see?

UPDATE [3:15 p.m.]: The Education Department has said it will publish the applications online later this week, along with the names of the peer reviewers.

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