State wins waiver to No Child Left Behind law

Connecticut has won its bid for a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind requirements, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon on his way to the state Capitol to meet with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Connecticut joins 18 other states that have also received a waiver to the requirements, which includes that 100 percent of students be proficient in reading and math in three school years. Almost half of the schools in Connecticut this year failed to reach the NCLB benchmarks.

“These states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all federal mandate,” Duncan said. The waivers were awarded to states that have plans to strengthen teachers and principals, keep accountability measures and have a college-career ready standards.

Eighteen additional state waiver requests are still under review, Duncan said.

Connecticut’s initial application includes an explanation of how the state will identify the lowest-performing schools and what models could be implemented to improve these schools. It does not mention how that impacts existing union contracts. The five-tier grading system for schools will be based off of the annual state standardized tests.

A lengthy explanation of the new evaluation system, and how it was developed, was also included in the application. It does not include how large a role standardized tests will play, a point of consternation for the group developing the teachers’ evaluations.

Many components of the education overhaul are also included in the waiver.