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Alaska, Hawaii, West Virginia Win NCLB Waivers

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has now awarded No Child Left Behind Act waivers to 37 states plus the District of Columbia.

Alaska, Hawaii, and West Virginia are the latest additions to the list, the Education Department announced today.

This means that the vast majority of the country is now operating under their own federally approved but state-crafted accountability plans as Congress continues to refrain from rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which NCLB is the latest version.

For Hawaii, their waiver continues a spate of good news. Last month the state finally secured a new contract with the state teachers' association, paving the way for Hawaii to keep its Race to the Top promises (and its grant award).

The last state to win a waiver was Idaho seven months ago.

Illinois continues to languish in waiver purgatory—the state that's been stuck there the longest over problems meeting the federal department's aggressive timeline for new teacher evaluations. Other states with outstanding applications include Alabama, Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire.

One of the biggest remaining question marks is whether Duncan will grant a first-of-its-kind waiver to nine California districts after their state couldn't successfully get one on its own. The districts are working on revising their proposal after getting a feedback letter (which the districts refuse to share) from the Education Department.

Interestingly, the department's news release says that California has notified federal officials that it will not make another go at a waiver, and instead will focus on common standards implementation.

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