SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is among five states approved for No Child Left Behind waivers, the U.S. Department of Education announced Friday.
So far, 24 states have been approved for the waivers, which provide flexibility from key provisions of the 10-year-old federal education law in exchange for state-developed plans to target achievement gaps and prepare students for college and careers. Another 12 states and Washington D.C. have applied for the waivers and are currently awaiting approval.
“These states have joined in a nationwide movement toward state-led education reform now embraced by 24 states,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a prepared statement. “Their plans are the product of bold, forward-thinking state and local leaders who have moved beyond the tired old battles and partisan bickering to roll up their sleeves and start working together.”
The first states to receive the waivers were announced in February. At the time, a statement from the Obama Administration said states were being given the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards because Congress had taken too long to reform NCLB. Notably, the waivers allow flexibility from the requirement that 100 percent of students test proficiently in 2014 to avoid being labeled as a failing school.
With the waiver, information that students and parents receive about a school's performance will be more accurate than the designations established by NCLB, said Judy Park, superintendent on Federal Programs for the State Office of Education.
She said schools will benefit from having a single system of accountability, managed by the state, rather than being subject to a second federal system which imposes sanctions for its performance criteria.
"We're very pleased, very happy it's been approved," Park said. "Our application and this approval represent work that has been occurring in the state over the last two years."