Idaho is one of only five states still waiting for a waiver to the No Child Left Behind education law. California and Nevada are also waiting for permission to use their own academic accountability systems.
Oregon received its waiver Thursday bringing the number of states exempt from federal student performance requirements to 32. Oregon education officials say part of the aim is to shift away from penalizing schools for failing to meet rigid benchmarks. Ben Cannon is Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s education policy advisor. He says the green light from the Department of Education ends a period of uncertainty for school districts.
"We were confident enough that we would get to this point with the U.S. Department of Education that we were advising districts to plan for this date even while they sort of had to keep a separate track open under the possibility that we wouldn't get a waiver," Cannon says.
Washington State received its waiver last week. A dozen states, including Montana and Wyoming, did not apply. They're waiting for Congress to update the 2001 law, something it has postponed for several years.
Idaho’s Department of Education expects to receive its waiver in late summer or early fall. It submitted the application in February but a request for additional information from the federal DoE delayed the process. Idaho will be among the last states to gain exemption from the current No Child Left Behind law even though it was a letter from Idaho’s Superintendent of Education that started the movement toward the new waiver system.