News and Tribune

Education/Schools

May 2, 2014

Indiana education waiver at risk

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s efforts to set its own educational course could be at risk if the state fails to correct issues with the implementation of its No Child Left Behind waiver, the U.S. Department of Education said.

Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle told schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz in a letter dated Thursday that federal monitors had identified problems in the state’s handling of the waiver during a review in August and September. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, which has not been publicly released.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The issues identified by Delisle stretch from the administration of former Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett to Ritz’s tenure, which began in January 2013. They include handling of teacher and principal evaluations, monitoring of college- and career-ready standards and technical assistance for local school districts. In many cases, the federal monitors say Indiana has failed to follow through on promises it made in its initial waiver plan.

Delisle said she was granting conditional approval of Indiana’s request for a waiver but said the state must address numerous steps identified in the letter or risk losing its waiver.

The state has 60 days from its receipt of the letter to respond to the recommended steps, Delisle said.

Indiana was one of 10 states to receive a waiver from the landmark education law in 2012. No Child Left Behind was a hallmark of President George W. Bush’s administration and aimed to get all children up to par in math and reading by 2014. But state education leaders increasingly complained that the goal wasn’t realistic.

The states excused from following the law were exempt from the 2014 deadline but had to submit plans showing how they would prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best-performing schools and focus help on the ones doing the worst.

The states also were given the freedom to use science, social studies and other subjects to measure student progress.

The potential setback to Indiana’s No Child waiver comes just days after the state approved new education standards. State lawmakers voted this year to make Indiana the first state to withdraw from the national Common Core standards.

That decision means Indiana will have to resubmit its No Child waiver request.

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