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CDE thinks NCLB waiver renewal shouldn’t be a problem

A Colorado official says he doesn’t see any challenges with a requirement that the state reapply for its waiver from parts of federal education law.

The U.S. Department of Education announced earlier in the day that 34 states and the District of Columbia that received waivers from No Child Left Behind in 2012 would need to reapply for the two school years that start in the fall of 2014. (See DOE statement; get technical details here.)

Education Week bloggers characterized the move as attaching “more strings” to waivers.

But Keith Owen, deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Education, doesn’t anticipate any problems. “We are kind of diving through [the new requirements] right now,” Owen said. “But on first glance it looks to be pretty consistent with the principles in the first waiver. … On the surface it seems to have everything we were hoping for.”

There’s been some national controversy about waivers recently. Earlier this month DOE raised concerns with how Kansas, Oregon and Washington were handling their waivers. An advocacy group, the Campaign for High School Equity, this week warned that waivers were a problem for at-risk students (see article).

And some members of Congress have been grumpy about waivers from the start. But congressional inaction on reauthorization of NCLB was what prompted the Obama administration to create the waiver program in the first place.

Waivers went into effect for Colorado in the 2012-13 year. The most significant parts of Colorado’s waiver allowed the state to discard the feds’ Adequate Yearly Progress standard for rating schools (the state has its own system) and gave the state greater flexibility in the use of some federal money. (For more background, see this EdNews story about Colorado’s 2011 application and this 2012 article about acceptance of that bid.)