Updated, 4:50 p.m.:
The Indiana Department of Education submitted its application for a waiver from aspects of the No Child Left Behind Law this afternoon. If granted, the Department says the waiver will allow greater flexibility for how Hoosier schools use federal education funds.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz said she was “proud” to submit the waiver request.
“I want to thank my staff, as well as the staffs of Governor Pence, our legislative leadership, CCSSO [Council of Chief State School Officers] and the United States Department of Education for their exceptional efforts during these last couple of months,” Ritz said in a statement. “Because of their work, I believe that Hoosier schools will have much needed flexibility over how they use some of their federal funding. Most importantly, this flexibility will improve education for our students.”
Ritz’s office said a decision is expected on the waiver by the end of July.
Today’s the day.
It’s June 30, the deadline federal officials set for Indiana to submit proof it is meeting expectations for its No Child Left Behind waiver.
Indiana was one of seven states targeted by the federal Department of Education for not doing enough to put “college and career ready” academic standards in place. The U.S. Department of Education notified State Superintendent Glenda Ritz about the issue in May, giving the state 60 days to submit documents to satisfy their concerns.
Ritz is expected to submit amendments to the waiver, in a bid for a one-year extension.
Indiana is one of 42 states with a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, which released the state from some sanctions of the federal law.
The waiver was granted partly on the condition that Indiana adopt “college and career ready” academic standards. Indiana fulfilled that requirement when it adhered to the Common Core, but now that the Core has been voided, federal authorities want proof that the new state standards are just as challenging.
Indiana is also required to submit an outline for how it will create and administer new state tests in the 2014-15 school year to go along with those new standards.
Eric Weddle of the Indianapolis Star writes that Indiana’s situation is unique:
The waiver was written by a former state superintendent, Bennett, who championed many of the reforms he pledged to roll out, such as Common Core academic standards, and worked closely with then-Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Then Bennett, a Republican, lost re-election in 2012 to Ritz, a Democrat. The same year Pence was elected after Daniels reached his term limit. The state this year scrapped the Common Core standards for new academic standards of its own.
Weddle goes on to write:
Now, Ritz must implement the waiver conditions.
Compounding matters is the friction between Ritz and the members of the State Board of Education who sought more involvement in crafting the waiver amendments and criticized Ritz for not providing full documentation of the amendments for their review.
A handful of other states have been put on notice that their waivers are in serious danger if changes are not made. Indiana was not given the same “high risk” status, but still had a number of concerns to address – more than most other states.
And now, we wait.
Both Ritz and Pence expressed confidence they will meet the federal government’s requirements after working with members of the U.S. Department of Education over the last 60 days.
Indiana schools could face sanctions if the state’s report does not satisfactorily answer federal concerns. The state of Washington lost its waiver earlier this year for failing to comply with its terms. The loss will mean less flexibility in how federal education dollars are spent in local schools, a situation Indiana hopes to avoid.
It’s unclear how fast the U.S. Department of Education will respond to the state’s waiver amendments.