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Missouri Receives Waiver for No Child Left Behind

Last September, the US Department of Education announced that states would have the opportunity to apply for a flexibility waiver to be in compliance with certain parts of the 2001 No Child Left Behind initiative set to expire in 2014. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, stated, “Instead of fostering progress and accelerating academic improvement, many NCLB requirements have unintentionally become barriers to State and local implementation of forward-looking reforms designed to raise academic achievement. “ Missouri applied to the first round of waivers, and again in the second round. On June 29, Missouri was officially notified that their application was approved and the state can begin to use this criteria to meet federal expectations.

Missouri is one of 26 states receiving waivers during the second round, bringing the total number of states to 40, including the District of Columbia. Missouri made their application in February for approval by the federal education department. The request received notes made by the review panel of peers in March. Missouri made adjustments and improvements based on the feedback and resubmitted their application. Official word was sent to states on June 29.

What does this waiver mean for the state?
According to the release, the waiver will allow Missouri to:

By receiving approval, the state will have more autonomy in how it uses the federal funds, like Title I. They will be more specific to the needs at the school-level, while still maintaining accountability to the federal standards. NCLB had become a punitive system, removing funds and accreditation from schools who fell short of the criteria. With the waiver, struggling schools will receive focused improvement and funding to raise the level of performance. Greater attention will be paid to prepare graduates to be college and career ready after high school.

What does this waiver mean for local schools?
Missouri has a 20-year history using the Missouri School Improvement Plan. This was a strength in the application for the waiver. Some of the changes necessary have been implemented in order for the state to be in compliance. The waiver goes into effect for the 2012-13 school year, with some of the changes already noticed by schools. Title I schools will be recognized as a reward, priority, or focus school. This will determine what level of need and intervention they will receive from the state. Interventions could be professional development for teachers, targeted interventions for student groups showing the lowest performance or achievement. The goal of this type of intervention is to close the achievement gap between student groups and diverse school populations.

What does this waiver mean for families?
No Child Left Behind, signed into law on January 28, 2002, originally was the push for states to improve standards for students, teachers, schools. There were specific goals and standards for reading and math, as well as targets for low-performing schools. The law has gone through several re-authorization cycles, each time becoming more tailored to focus on low-performing schools. With the waiver in effect for the next three years, Missouri families can expect better reporting regarding how their child’s school is performing and communication in regards to the interventions that are in place to meet the expectations. Missouri has established a rating system- reward, priority, or focus, for each school. This is based on graduation-rate data and performance on assessments for the 2011-12 school year.

More information about NCLB and state waivers:

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