The Iowa Department of Education today notified the U.S. Department of Education of its intent to seek a waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in February, Director Jason Glass said.
“We expect our schools to meet high standards, but we need to do it in a way that focuses on students making strong progress each year,” Glass said. “The bar has to be reasonable.”
Glass and the Branstad-Reynolds administration will work with key education groups and state policymakers to design a new accountability system that puts student achievement first, but also focuses on student growth and assessments that are aligned with the Iowa Core standards. The roadmap for that accountability system is outlined in the Branstad-Reynolds administration’s blueprint for transforming education, released Oct. 3.
In September, the U.S. Department of Education invited states to apply for flexibility from specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive state-developed plans to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity and improve the quality of instruction.
A federal timeline gives states three options to apply: November 14, 2011, mid-February 2012, and following the end of the 2011-12 school year. Iowa’s goal is to apply in mid-February 2012, Glass said.
Also this week, U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., released a draft of comprehensive legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This is the law that authorizes federally funded education programs administered by the states. (In 2002, Congress reauthorized ESEA as the No Child Left Behind Act.)
“We are hopeful that Congress is able to reach a reasonable and bipartisan agreement on how to reauthorize No Child Left Behind,” Glass said.
An overview of federal guidance for the waiver application can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility