Feds Rescind Washington's 'No Child Left Behind' Waiver
by: Martin Kaste, NPR, April 24, 2014 6:04:00 pm
Washington has become the first state to have its "No Child Left Behind" waiver revoked by the Obama Administration. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan notified the state of his decision today, which will restrict's Washington's flexibility in spending federal education dollars.
Washington, like every other state with a waiver, had promised to do just that. But the legislature balked, in part because of pressure from teachers, but also because of growing "test-fatigue" among students and their parents. A standardized test boycott at Seattle's Garfield High School made national headlines last year.
In his letter, Duncan made it clear that test scores have to be part of the mix.
The Washington Education Association — the union — has responded by calling No Child Left Behind a "failed federal law," and it praised the state legislature for rejecting "Duncan's inflexible and bureaucratic demands."
Washington state won't lose federal dollars, but without a waiver, under-performing schools will have to set aside 20 percent for remedies from "private vendors." That means schools might have to pay for private tutoring, or transportation of dissatisfied students to other schools. They also run the risk of being declared "failing," and possibly having staff replaced.
The state's Superintendent of Schools, Randy Dorn, pushed for the legislature to link teacher evaluations to testing, and he says he's not surprised the waiver was rescinded. But he also says the consequences of losing the waiver are disproportionate.
He guesses 90 percent of Washington state schools will have to send out that letter, this summer.