January 13, 2016
State Board of Education Votes to Seek Relief from
Provisions of Outdated Federal No Child Left Behind Act
SACRAMENTO—The State Board of Education (SBE) today took the first step toward relieving school districts in California from complying with two key provisions of the outdated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
The board authorized two waiver requests for provisions involving Title I schools, which have high numbers and high percentages of students from low-income families. The waivers would give California districts more flexibility to use federal funding for programs and services they believe would best improve academic achievement
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson strongly supports the action. "California districts should be given the flexibility contained in the new Every Student Succeeds Act without having to comply with burdensome provisions of No Child Left Behind," he said.
The first waiver, if granted by the federal government, would provide Title I districts with more flexibility to use funds that are now used for supplemental educational services on high-quality programs designed by districts to best suit the needs of academically struggling students. The current system, developed under NCLB regulations, relies largely on private providers to assist students at sites away from schools.
The waiver is needed during the transition because that provision of NCLB will still be in effect during the 2016–17 school year.
Last year, the California Department of Education sought a similar waiver, but it was denied by the U.S. Department of Education even though the department had granted waivers to 43 other states and eight large school districts within California.
Education leaders are hopeful that the waiver will be granted this year in light of the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which President Obama signed in December 2015.
The SBE also voted to approve a waiver request for the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) provisions of NCLB so that the state does not need to identify new schools for Program Improvement. The waiver will be sought if those AYP provisions remain in effect during the 2016–17 school year.
Meanwhile, Torlakson and SBE President Michael Kirst are urging the U.S. Department of Education to write regulations implementing ESSA in a way that allows California the flexibility to continue developing its own coherent accountability system that will best suit the needs of California students, parents, and communities.
In a letter sent today, the two education leaders said giving states wide discretion will allow California to implement the dramatic positive changes underway in education, including a new funding system and a developing accountability system. The letter can be found at Every Student Succeeds Act page [http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/el/le/yr16ltr0113.asp].
"Flexibility is paramount for states like ours that are already far along in redesigning our accountability system. Our goal is to ensure options are available to California as our new accountability system evolves," said SBE president Kirst.
Torlakson agreed. "I am pleased that the Every Student Succeeds Act contains more flexibility for states than No Child Left Behind did," he said. "I ask the federal Department of Education to continue following the principles of local control and discretion as it drafts regulations implementing the new federal law. Education decisions are best made at the state and local levels."
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100