States’ Perspectives on Waivers: Relief from NCLB, Concern about Long-term Solutions

This report describes states’ early experiences in applying for flexibility from key requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as NCLB waivers, and their plans for implementing the new systems outlined in their applications.  Findings from the 38 survey states indicate states believe that the waivers address several of the problems they see with the NCLB accountability requirements, however, many state officials are concerned about what will happen to the programs and policies in their waiver plans if ESEA is reauthorized. These and other key findings that emerged from the survey results are presented in this report.

Content Comments 

This report presents a thorough examination of the survey results and feedback from 38 states, 32 of whom had received ESEA waivers (including DC) and 6 of whom had submitted applications and were awaiting results. While comprehensive, it does present a biased sample, in that the 38 states that submitted applications for a waiver would feel that the waiver provided for more positive results for accountability and instruction. This report is very clear, with terms explicitly defined, and makes good use of visuals (graphs, charts) along with narrative to provide the context for the findings and provide comparison across states where applicable. This resource is useful for multiple audiences, but again, only as a summary of the 38 states that have received a waiver or have submitted an application and are awaiting a response from the U.S. Dept of Education. This is not a comprehensive scan of all 50 states. This report is useful in scanning the results of these 38 states’ expectations of the components and their policy implications. However, because so much has changed in the  six months since this was released, it would probably be more helpful to release these as quick turnaround mini-reports providing updates. As an initial survey, it is not a report to be generalized.