The Obama administration granted seven additional states flexibility from key provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on Friday, June 29 and July 5. These announcements bring the number of states with approved waivers to 26, with 11 additional states still under review.
The seven states approved were Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Virginia, Utah, Washington State and Wisconsin. Of these, only Virginia and Utah checked the box requesting the optional 11th waiver allowing 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funds to be used to lengthen the school day, week or year. Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Washington State and Wisconsin did not include a request for the 11th waiver on 21st CCLC.
Given the potentially high cost of adding time to the school day, this provision could result in fewer communities having access to quality out-of-school programs, enlarging the already significant unmet demand for quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs across the country. For those keeping track, the other states granted waivers to date are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee. Of the 26 total states granted waivers, 17 requested and received the 21st CCLC waiver.
The Department of Education initiated the waiver process
last fall to give states flexibility on some of the mandates of the 10-year-old NCLB law in exchange for states implementing standards and accountability reforms.
Guidance on how states may implement the 21st
CCLC waiver has been slow to come, but the Department of Education did issue language clarifying
that: a state must retain existing 21st
CCLC requirements prioritizing school-community partnerships; and the “programming provided through a longer school day, week, or year, must not be ‘more of the same’ but instead should involve careful planning by the eligibile entity to ensure that the programs or activities will be used to improve student achievement and ensure a well-rounded education that prepares students for college and careers.