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No Child Left Behind Waiver Approved For Texas

Christopher C. Leonard

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has approved the Texas Education Commissioner’s request for the state to opt out of major sections of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The approved general waiver allows schools to keep the money they were paying for federal tutoring programs and are allowed to design their own. But the biggest change is that school districts will no longer be required to meet the federal standards of the annual yearly progress report of which 95 percent of Texas schools were labeled as academically unacceptable.

"One of the things that was part of the real rationale for seeking the waiver was so that we could give districts flexibility in how they dealt with their students and how they provided services for their students," said TEA Commissioner Michael Williams.

Williams is now required to develop a state-run teacher and principal evaluation program by 2014, which is when the waiver expires, and must convince teachers and principals to come on board.

"I’ll have to go out and recruit and encourage and I still do not have the authority under state law to require anyone to participate in the pilot or when we want to roll this out statewide," Williams said.

Williams will have to get 40 school districts to sign up for the pilot program and the legislature will have to give him that authority over teacher evaluations when the program goes statewide.

Earlier this September, the TEA was denied its waiver that address standardized testing for elementary and middle school students.