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Colorado gets one-year extension on federal policy waiver

Federal education dollars will continue to flow to Colorado after the U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has granted the state a one-year extension to its No Child Left Behind waiver.

But in a letter to the Robert Hammond, Colorado’s education commissioner, the department noted it still has to sign-off on changes to Colorado’s school and district accountability system.

The department also said the waiver was contingent on the state working with the department to smooth out its teacher and principal evaluation tools. That’s because the Colorado General Assembly earlier this year passed two pieces of legislation that tweaks those two policy initiatives.

Colorado was one of the first states to receive a waiver after the Obama administration began using them to circumvent the federal education law, which Congress has not revised since it expired in 2010. The waivers let states maintain their federal funding even if they do not meet the law’s requirement that 100 percent of students pass state tests — as long as the states put policies in place that conform to the Obama administration’s priorities.

Those policies include adopting new college- or career-ready standards and aligned tests, developing teacher evaluations that include student growth data, and identifying and monitoring the bottom five percent of schools based on various data points.

But how those policies are adapted to local jurisdictions is broadly left to the states.

The Colorado Department of Education did not have a comment on the extension.

Other states that received a one-year extension today include Arkansas, Connecticut, Nevada, South Dakota and Virginia.

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