Press Release

WASHINGTON (February 9, 2012) – The Obama administration has announced that it is granting 10 states waivers from the accountability system of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In response, The Education Trust issued the following statement from Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs and communications:

“Today, the Obama administration embarked on a new phase in the education partnership between the federal government and the states.

“Under the Improving America’s Schools Act, enacted in 1994, the federal government told states: In exchange for federal funds, you don’t have to do much of anything. No Child Left Behind swung the pendulum in the opposite direction, telling states: In exchange for federal funds, this is what you’ll do.

“Today’s waiver approvals establish a middle ground. In this new approach, the federal government takes responsibility for ensuring that states set meaningful goals for all groups of students — particularly low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners, all of whom are too often shortchanged by state and local education policy. At the same time, the waivers give these 10 states the flexibility and responsibility to determine the kinds of strategies and interventions their schools and districts need to enable all groups of students to meet their goals.

“But the East Room of the White House is a long way from the classrooms of our country. So we all need to hold our applause until we see what these waivers yield for our students, particularly our most vulnerable.

“The states that have been granted waivers now have to deliver on their promises by challenging their schools and, simultaneously, providing the supports they’ll need to meet the challenge. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education must stand firm on its promise to vigilantly enforce these agreements.

“Today is the beginning, not the end of a new chapter in American education. How it ends will have much more to do with the actions of the adults involved — from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the kindergarten teachers in Duluth — than with the abilities of our nation’s students, who will soar if given the opportunity.”

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A deeper analysis of the final waiver agreements by The Education Trust’s policy staff will be posted later today at, following the release of more detailed, state-by-state materials by the U.S. Department of Education.