To be clear, while waivers have provided an opportunity for states to advance needed changes to improve education for all children, they are not a permanent solution. States are not interested in backing away from accountability; however, it is critical that they have the opportunity to build on the work they have already started under their approved waivers or efforts and continue to develop structures that will drive their schools and districts to achieve at higher levels. States, with their waivers, have already advanced their systems beyond NCLB and now need a federal law that builds on state leadership and provides the stability to fully realize the potential of their efforts.
While much progress has been made since 2002 when NCLB was signed into law, too many achievement gaps still persist — as a nation, we are leaving too many children behind. The Department of Education’s approval of these states’ new accountability systems that move beyond those under NCLB is a significant step, but we continue to ask Congress to reauthorize ESEA with state models as the basis for the work. Only an updated and improved federal law will provide all states with a clear, long-term solution for meaningful education changes and accountability.
Chris Minnich is the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents the state superintendents of education.