Federal officials grant Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver

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By Jill Glavan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 28, 2014) — The U.S. Department of Education has made a decision on the appeal to Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver.

The Indiana Department of Education received word from the United States Department of Education that Indiana has received a waiver from certain aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind law.  In addition, all conditions were removed from Indiana’s waiver.  This will give local schools continued flexibility in how they utilize federal funding and allow more funding decisions to be made at the local level.

In response to this news, Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction issued the following statement:

“On behalf of Indiana’s schools, I am incredibly pleased to learn that our waiver request has been granted.  This news means that local schools throughout our state will receive much needed flexibility in how they utilize their federal dollars.  This waiver extension also will allow Indiana to have continued flexibility in how we measure student performance and growth.

“During my time as Superintendent, we have adopted the highest standards in Indiana history, modernized ISTEP and begun the process to strengthen our accountability system.  Additionally, we have put in place a strong and positive grassroots system of outreach and support for Indiana schools.  Today’s decision by the United States Department of Education validates the work that we have done.

“I want to thank the members of the Indiana Department of Education for the incredible work they did to get this waiver for our schools. I truly appreciate their efforts as they work alongside educators, parents, community leaders and local organizations to meet the needs of Indiana’s children.

“I also want to thank Senators Coats and Donnelly, as well as our entire Congressional delegation for their support, as well as leaders in the Statehouse.  Finally, I want to thank Secretary Duncan, Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle and the United States Department of Education for their assistance throughout this application process.”

Gov. Mike Pence issued the following statement:

“I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Arne Duncan have approved Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver request.

“The approval of Indiana’s waiver request is great news for Indiana students and schools. It gives us the ability to maintain local control of how federal education dollars are invested and to maintain the use of Indiana’s A-F school accountability system. The waiver also allows school districts and teachers to educate students in a manner determined by Hoosier educators and families in their local communities.

“Since being elected Governor, I have consistently said that the Hoosier state needs to vigorously protect our commitment to high standards and to an accountability system that upholds those standards. I have also been clear that we need maximum flexibility under the law to develop our academic standards and accountability measures.

“I would like to congratulate Superintendent Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education, members of the State Board of Education and the Education Roundtable, and the many Indiana educators and subject matter experts who contributed to a successful outcome. The collaborative work of all stakeholders involved was instrumental in successfully retaining our waiver.

“Indiana will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Education to address any remaining implementation challenges with respect to school and educator accountability requirements, which were established under state law.

“With this renewed flexibility, our state will work every day to ensure that all Hoosier children have access to a quality school, that good teachers are rewarded, and that struggling schools get the help they need to improve.”

In May, the federal government placed Indiana’s waiver on “conditional” status, citing issues with teacher evaluation, assessments and other requirements.

The state submitted an exhaustive appeal to that status, including Indiana’s new college and career readiness standards and work underway to rewrite ISTEP.

If Indiana lost its waiver, the flexibility to spend millions of federal money could be lost. That could lead to cuts in services and jobs at area school districts.