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Five States Receive NCLB Waiver Extensions

The U.S. Department of Education granted five more states No Child Left Behind Act waiver extensions Thursday afternoon, bringing the total number of approved extensions to 13.

The latest states are Georgia, Delaware, Minnesota, New York, and South Carolina.

In addition to extending Georgia's waiver through the end of the 2015 school year, the renewal also amends, among other things, the exit criteria for priority and focus schools, the most chronically failing schools in the state. The allowance comes with a warning, however. If Georgia plans to apply for another waiver come 2015, it must prove that the revised exit criteria are sufficiently rigorous to ensure the schools made "significant progress" in improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps.

We at Education Week were excited to see what was in the Peach State's waiver-renewal letter in the wake of its pullback on the Common Core State Standards and the corresponding consortium tests, not to mention the department's withholding of nearly $10 million of Georgia's Race to the Top grant for eliminating a merit-pay system tied to new teacher evaluations.

New York was in a similar position. In early June, it was warned by the department that it could lose nearly $300 million of its Race to the Top funds if it followed through on a proposal to put off incorporating test scores from common-core-aligned exams in teacher evaluation. The state also slightly changed the impact that assessments aligned to the common-core standards would have on certain teacher and principal evaluations.

But the department gave the Empire State some good news: In addition to its waiver extension, it is also on track, pending the implementation of teacher and principal evaluations, for consideration of a longer waiver renewal period come spring of 2015.

The waiver extensions for South Carolina and Delaware continues continues the trend of the department approving extensions for states that are still working with the Obama administration to hammer out changes to their teacher- and principal-evaluation systems. That's something the department has offered waiver states that have the authority to implement teacher-evaluation systems that meet the federal parameters, but need to make changes in a few "targeted areas," including timelines.

So far, 43 states and the District of Columbia have been granted waivers, including one, Washington state, that saw its flexibility revoked. Thirty-five states will see their waivers expire this summer, and 29 have submitted renewal requests so far.

On July 3, the department announced waiver extensions for Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, South Dakota, and Virginia. Two weeks later, on July 18, the department granted Maryland and Idaho extensions.

The Education Department is expected to announce more waiver extensions this summer. 

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