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Alabama and New Hampshire ESEA Flexibility Waivers Approved

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July 3, 2013

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Alabama and New Hampshire ESEA Flexibility Waivers Approved

By: Brendan Desetti and Robert LaBounty

Over the past week, the Department of Education has approved flexibility waivers for key requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for Alabama and New Hampshire. Their approval brings the total number of approved flexibility waivers to 39 states and the District of Columbia.

Because Congress has not yet reauthorized  ESEA, the department waivers were created in 2011 as a way to release states from key requirements of the law, currently known as No Child Left Behind. In exchange for these waivers, the department requires states to submit state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and careers, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership. 

The Alabama waiver, approved on June 21, includes a new accountability system which will look at certain variables such as student achievement over the course of the year, learning gains in reading and math, the graduation rate, as well as a career and college readiness indicator. The career and college readiness indicator is comprised of multiple components like passing scores on an AP or IB exam, achieving the benchmark level on ACT WorkKeys, or they can earn an approved industry credit or meet the benchmark on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

The New Hampshire waiver looks at the graduation rates as well as dropout rates as a sign of progress  and they hope to include “postsecondary readiness measures” in the future. The state is currently working with the NH Business and Industry Association in order to assure that each student is career ready. They stress that career readiness is different than entry-level employment and that they want to see students engaged in a field where they can work toward a meaningful promotion.

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