No Child Left Behind Waivers Require Big Changes Fast

Marion Herbert's picture
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When New Jersey applied to the federal government for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law, Gov. Chris Christie used the opportunity to tout elements of his education reform agenda that had been languishing in the state legislature for months.

"For a new accountability system to be effective and successful in benefitting children, we must have all of the tools that are provided for in this legislation," the Republican governor said in a statement released Nov. 16. "It's time for the New Jersey legislature to step up with my administration, President Barack Obama, (Education) Secretary (Arne) Duncan and a national, bipartisan movement to act boldly and give every child the education they deserve."

The legislation Christie was referring to includes several bills. One would tie decisions about teacher tenure and pay to student performance on standardized tests. Others would authorize more charter schools and allow the state's lowest-performing schools to convert into charters.

New Jersey is among 11 states that recently applied for a waiver from the nearly 10-year-old federal education law. An additional 28 say they plan to apply for waivers in a second round next year. If approved by the U.S. Department of Education, those states will be exempt from some requirements of No Child Left Behind. Most notably, they would be relieved from having to show all students achieving proficiency in reading and math by the 2013-14 school year.

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