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Maine, Michigan Snag Three-Year NCLB Waiver Renewals

Make that 33. The U.S. Department of Education approved Thursday additional renewals of state flexibility from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act for Maine and Michigan.

Both states received three-year renewals through the 2017-18 school-year, meaning they won't have to request another during President Barack Obama's tenure (if waivers last that long).

"As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press release. "States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal--getting every student in America college- and career-ready."

In its renewal approval letter, the department commended Maine on increasing the number of districts that are participating in coaching and mentoring, as well as on its principal leadership development.

The letter specifically called out the Transformational Leaders Network, a program that provides support for developing skills and strategies to engage staff in the school improvement process and face-to-face coaching and mentoring by school improvement coaches. The department also praised the Cross Discipline Literacy Network program, which provides professional development and support for literacy in various content areas.

In addition, the department auded the state education department for offering "a wide range of supports for school districts and schools, including models for educator evaluation systems, workshops to support local implementation and trainings on various aspects of educator evaluation systems."

Notably, in June, Maine dropped out of the Smarter Balanced testing consortium that provided the common-core aligned assessments state students took this past spring.

As for Michigan, the Education Department applauded its increased use of data to help priority and focus schools (the lowest-performing in the state) make decisions regarding how to best reach and intervene with students who are falling behind.

Also in the school improvement area, the department took note of Michigan's use of school improvement facilitators to assist teacher teams in priority schools in the use of common assessments, and to help them identify which students are on track, which students are ahead, and which students need additional support.

Waiver renewals have been rolling in as the summer draws to a close. Last week, the Education Department granted seven states renewals, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

Today's renewals leave just nine states waiting in the wings.

Having trouble keeping track of all this? We got a map for that!

Waivermap.PNG

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