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Eight More States Get ESEA Waivers

The U.S. Department of Education today granted waivers to eight of the 26 states (plus the District of Columbia) that applied in February for wiggle room under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The second-round waiver states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Ohio has not received approval yet on its grading system, but it's waiver isn't considered conditional.

Notice a pattern there? Except for Connecticut and Louisiana, all of the waiver recipients were among the dozen states that won a slice of the $4 billion Race to the Top fund.

That shouldn't surprise anyone. To get a waiver, states must embrace certain Obama administration reform priorities. And many of those requirements, such as setting up a teacher evaluation system based in part on student achievement are similar to the policies embraced by the administration's Race to the Top competitive grant program. Plus, the folks at the U.S. Department of Education are probably more familiar with the Race to the Top states, since they deal with them to check in on the grants.

The only Race to the Top recipient that applied in Round 2 and is still waiting on a waiver? The District of Columbia.

These eight new states join the 11 that were approved in Round 1—which included four Race to the Top winners (Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and Tennessee.) The other Race to the Top winner, Hawaii, didn't apply in Round 2.

Maybe the biggest surprise on this list? New York, which has had a tough time putting a new teacher evaluation system in place.

And what about the other states that applied that haven't yet been granted waivers? They're still working things out with the department, which is announcing waiver recipients in batches. In fact, more approvals could be announced in the next several weeks, department officials said.

At least one state—Vermont—has decided to drop-out of the process. Vermont was initially hoping to use state tests with its students every other year and the department said no-go on that. More here.

Stay tuned for more analysis and information to come on State Ed Watch.

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