Earlier this week, Iowa, which had its request for wiggle room from mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act turned down, got another kind of reprieve from the U.S. Department of Education: the chance to freeze its Annual Measurable Outcomes (goals for student proficiency) under the NCLB law for one year, while it works towards waiver approval.
And today, the department announced that six other states, Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and West Virginia, can also hit the pause button on their AMOs for the coming school year, while they work on their waiver plans. Check out a sample letter (Alabama's) here. See a full list of where states stand in the waiver process here.
The option was designed to give states that are planning to apply for a waiver in the early fall a "transition year" so they're not completely stuck with NCLB while they work on their waiver. Alabama, Alaska, Maine, and West Virginia are in that position.
States that already have a waiver application could apply for the freeze as well, as a kind of safe-guard, in case their waiver didn't come in time for the start of the school year. Idaho and Kansas took that route.
Right now, there are no other AMO freeze waiver applications pending, a department official said. But states can still apply for the flexibility.
Not just any state can apply for this one-year AMO freeze. States must show that they are serious about getting on board with the department's conditional waivers, even if they're not quite ready to submit an application, or get approved.
To get the flexibility, states must already have certain conditions in place. For instance, they have to adopt college- and career-ready standards, make data about student achievement gaps public, and share data about student growth with teachers.
That means states that have just steered clear of the department's conditional waiver process altogether—such as Texas—would not necessarily meet the benchmark for the AMO freeze.