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Is Minnesota the Gold Standard for NCLB Waiver Implementation?

A new batch of No Child Left Behind Act waiver monitoring reports shows that Oregon and Arkansas are among the many states that continue to stumble as they try to turn around their lowest-performing schools.

However, if the U.S. Department of Education were giving waiver implementation grades, it seems that so far, Minnesota has gotten the only "A."

To date, Minnesota's monitoring report is the cleanest I've seen. The state is meeting expectations across a myriad of perfomance measures, whether it's implementing new standards or issuing new state and local report cards. There are no issues to report, except that the state's teacher-evaluation system has not been approved yet by federal officials. Many states, however, are still waiting for formal approval of their evaluation systems.

Back to Oregon and Arkansas.

Besides major problems with its teacher- and principal-evaluation systems, which earned the state a "high-risk" status label, Oregon is largely fulfilling its NCLB waiver commitments. Its only formal citation was that some School Improvement Grant schools are not implementing all of the SIG requirements as the department requires.

Federal officials flagged Arkansas for the same problem with its SIG schools. Plus, the department noted that the state is not including NAEP data on its local district report cards as required. What's more, the department warned the state that it is monitoring a new student-growth model that the state is working on as part of its new evaluation system.  (Like Minnesota and Oregon, Arkansas also doesn't have an approved teacher-evaluation system.)

With the addition of these three monitoring reports, 11 states now have had their formal reviews publicized. With 42 states plus the District of Columbia operating under waivers, there are many more reports to come.

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